At a banking conference in Hong Kong Hans Rosling, the author of the book Factfulness, was seated at dinner next to a brilliant young banker.
She was 37 years old and enjoying a very successful career and over dinner taught him many things about current issues and trends in Southeast Asia.
Then they started talking about each other’s personal lives.
“Do you plan to have a family?” Hans asked.
He did not wish to sound rude but those of you who know the Swedes know they freely talk about such issues.
She had no problem with the question and was happy to provide an honest answer.
She smiled and looked over her shoulder at the sun setting over the bay.
She said, “I am thinking about children every single day.”
Then she looked straight into the eyes of Hans and said, “It’s the idea of a husband I can’t stand.”
In this enlightened age many people around the world fully recognize the full contribution that can be achieved when we have equality of the sexes.
In Europe, there are several women who have risen to high office in both the political and business world.
In Europe today, we have 12 women who are head of state or head of government and, in addition, we have three reigning queens.
Across the world, 27 women are heads of state or heads of government.
The three European queens are the only reigning female monarchs out of the 26 monarchies in a network of kings, queens, sultans, emperors and emirs who rule or reign over 43 countries in all.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world it is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, for women to reach high office either in the business world or in government.
I am convinced this mindset is increasingly going to be a major impediment when it comes to creating the environment that will deliver the full potential benefits for all the people of these blinkered countries.
I am a big fan of Zeinab Badawi, the Sudanese born British television and radio journalist.
Her great-grandfather, Sheikh Babiker Badri, fought against Kitchener’s British forces at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 and he is also noted for pioneering women’s education in Sudan.
She recently chaired a panel discussion in Nigeria ahead of the upcoming election with an audience of young Nigerians.
I was really impressed with the individuals who raised questions for the panel to answer.
The questioners were challenging the current status quo in Nigeria with old men who in many cases are corrupt and incompetent filling the top positions in the country.
What really impressed me was the call for change coming from the women in the audience who are increasingly becoming very frustrated with the lack of equality.
Back here in the GCC, we have an increasing valuable pool of talent graduating from schools and universities and the most successful are women.
Companies and governments who do not tap fully into this talent pool are doing their companies, country and their people a major disservice.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at email@example.com