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Poverty is such a girly thing

“Globally, there are 122 women aged between 25 and 34 living in extreme poverty for every 100 men of the same age group. The global gender pay gap is 23%. Women’s labour force participation rate is 63% while that of men is 94%. And: Women are up to 11 percentage points more likely than men to report food insecurity.”

Quote from: United Nations Report “Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (2018)

HOW IS GENDER INEQUALITY STILL A THING? It’s a not-so-fun-fact that globally women are way more likely to live in poverty than men. The economic facts quoted above are taken from a recent global survey of the UN on gender equality in different areas of life. One major insight of the report: Change comes very slow for women – if at all.

Looking back at the UN’s findings in 2009 – almost ten years ago – the policymakers had to admit, that despite “progress in recent years, women and girls account for six out of 10 of world’s poorest and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people”. Even more disturbing: one-third of all women were and still are “subjected to violence, whether in times of armed conflict or behind closed doors at home.”

Now that the facts are in, what can be done to turn women’s misery around? As always it all starts with spreading awareness for the problem at hand. As uncomfortable as it may be: this is going to take people to explain the problem truthfully – and men to listen. Like really listen. (Sorry, guys!)

Admitting that in many parts of the world women are still not equal to men is the first step. And to pre-empt any protest: we are not talking about the need for quotas or the lack of women CEO's but of real poverty and misery on the bottom end of the spectrum. The actual reasons for the persistent gender inequality in economic affairs are often multi-dimensional:

First of all, women across the world are working the lowest-paid jobs. Think of maids, cleaners, nurses, and caretakers. In effect, this means they earn “24 percent less than men and at the current rate of progress” according to an Oxfam survey. Plus: roughly 700 million more women than men don’t have a paid job to sustain themselves. If women in developing countries do have a job they are likely to not have a decent one – like 75 percent likely.

Meaning: these women work in the so-called “informal economy” without a proper contract or any kind of insurance. Under these conditions escaping poverty – especially for single-mothers – becomes unrealistic at best. At the same time, they rarely have a choice. To prevent misunderstandings: For them, it’s not about earning some extra cash to go on wild shopping sprees buying bags and boots, it’s actually much more about beets and roots and sending their kids to school.

On top of that: women spend their time doing a lot more unpaid work than men. Like what, you ask? Like cooking, cleaning, maintenance, childcare, housework in general. Being burdened with these tasks and not getting paid for it turns otherwise content girls and women into seriously desperate housewives – and not the kind you think of right now. Geeta Rao Gupta, a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, specifies the problem of disadvantaged girls and women in an essay:

“Gender norms define women’s role as largely relegated to the home, as mother and caretaker, and men’s role as responsible for productive activities outside the home. These norms influence institutional policies and laws that define women’s and men’s access to productive resources such as education, employment, land and credit."

In many cases, the housework and caretaking needs to be done in addition to another underpaid job outside the house. According to Oxfam women lose 9 trillion dollars a year compared to their male counterparts due to these types of inequality. Imagine what could be done with that kind of money – apart from buying new outfits and shoes of course…

Interestingly enough: Numerous surveys in different countries have shown that the more women are given decent, well-paid jobs the more the overall poverty diminishes. Or in the words of the United Nations:

When men and women have equal opportunities and freedoms, economic growth accelerates and poverty rates drop more rapidly for everyone.”

Why is that so? Well, maybe it’s because women don’t spend as much money on lip-gloss as usually expected, still constitute the cornerstone of the family, still in many cases manage the budget of a household – and the more they earn, the better for everyone in it, especially for the kids in single-mother homes.

That is why empowering women seems one of the most effective tools to combat poverty globally. EMERALD BERLIN wants to contribute to the goal of fighting poverty and promoting gender equality. And that’s why we support the charity-project of Glocal Lifelearn e.V. With its Take.Action-program in Uganda the organization is helping young Africans to lift themselves up from a life of want and break the cycle of deprivation.

Especially young girls and mothers are given a sponsored skills training to learn a profession and earn real money in a decent job making them capable of escaping the dead-end-jobs in agriculture or on the fields. This way women can not only build a better future for themselves but help their families and their communities more effectively than ever.

Education is key – and Glocal Lifelearn e.V. with its dedicated members and sponsors provides this wonderful opportunity. EMERALD BERLIN wants to make this project known to the world. Do you want to support the organization and spread the word? Well, then donate to the aid-workers and shop the Glocal Lifelearn e.V. x EMERALD Collection. Thank you for your support!

 

The author of this blog-article is Marc Dassen. You want to leave him a comment or ask a question? Send him an e-mail via marc@emerald-berlin.com.


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