Working women hold key to world prosperity

Wed Oct 29, 2008 9:56pm EDT
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By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - A pitbull with lipstick may not be every woman's idea of a role model.

Indeed, many liberal women hate everything arch-Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate and self-proclaimed hockey mom Sarah Palin stands for, even as conservatives are enamored by her down-to-earth leadership style and jokes such as one comparing hockey moms to attack dogs with lipstick.

But like her or loathe her, women around the globe are fascinated by Palin's juggling act as an aspiring Vice President, governor of Alaska and mother of five.

Combining a career with motherhood is a battle familiar to millions of working women who are often accused of failing to look after their children properly.

"It's seriously stressful having a family and holding down a career. I often feel guilty," said Gill Thomas, a 43-year-old lawyer with a 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.

"Childcare is alright until the kids are sick. That's when it's a nightmare and I do feel as if colleagues, family and friends sometimes disapprove of my lifestyle."

Getting women to have children and work poses a conundrum for governments who have begun to realize that women hold the answer to the dual challenges of achieving long-term economic growth and boosting sagging birth rates.

Closing the gap between male and female employment would dramatically boost the economies of OECD countries -- by up to 13 percent in the euro zone and even more in Japan, say Goldman Sachs economists.   Continued...

<p>A woman pushes a pram outside ABN-AMRO Bank ATM machines in Amstelveen in this May 29, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Koen van Weel/Files</p>