“Women have to be part of the solution in a significant way. It won’t happen if we’re investing in one-half of the population and leaving half behind.” – Melanne Verveer, Director of Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University.
Watch Hilary Clinton talk about the economic empowerment of women.
Women are our mothers, sisters, friends and partners. They help to guide us through our lives.
However, it is clear that their intelligence and resourcefulness is being undervalued by societies around the world. Women make up 70% of the global poor and earn only 10% of the global income, despite producing over half its food. Shocking, isn’t it?
From rice paddies in Vietnam to coffee plantations in Brazil, women are not getting what they deserve for their hard work. In some countries, women are denied the right to have certain jobs.
Imagine if that could all change.
World Bank Report On Women’s Roles In Global Development
In 2012, The World Bank produced a report on how women could be key players in global development. “Women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality are key to achieving sustainable development.”
“Greater gender equality can enhance economic efficiency and improve other development outcomes by removing barriers that prevent women from having the same access as men to human resource endowments, rights, and economic opportunities.”
“Giving women access to equal opportunities allows them to emerge as social and economic actors, influencing and shaping more inclusive policies. Improving women’s status also leads to more investment in their children’s education, health, and overall well being.”
Take Burundi for example. It is one of the poorest countries in Africa. If every girl completed one year of higher education, the value of their lifetime productivity would be equivalent to nearly one year’s GDP for the country.
Here we look at ten different ways women’s empowerment could change the world:
1) Equal Pay Would Boost Economies
Studies show that if women were paid the same amount as men worldwide, the per capita income in some of our fastest-growing economies would rise 20% by 2030. The possibilities would be endless.
Women put most of what they earn straight into their family. On average, eighty cents of every dollar a woman earns goes toward health care, nutrition, and housing for her kids. For men, it is only ten cents in every dollar. If women’s wages rose worldwide, that would have a long-lasting effect on children in developing nations. Imagine if every child had enough food to eat and proper clothes to wear.
This is backed up by the Vital Voices organisation. Which says, “There is a direct correlation between investment in women and girls and poverty alleviation, a lessening of government corruption and greater general prosperity. Women are powerful agents of economic growth and social change.”
In 2013, President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim said, “Putting women at the centre is smart economics.”
The International Centre for Research on Women has highlighted several reasons to emphasise women’s economic empowerment.
Economic empowerment can help women achieve their potential and advance their rights.
2) Economic Empowerment Of Women Will Reduce Poverty
Meeting poverty-reduction goals means allowing the economic empowerment of women around the world.
3) Ending Job Discrimination Will Improve Economies
Discrimination against women is economically inefficient. National economies lose out when a substantial part of the population cannot compete for jobs.
4) Skilled Women Help Growth
Working with women makes good business sense. When women have the right skills and opportunities, they can help businesses and markets grow.
5) Empowered Women Contribute To Their Families And Communities
Women who are economically empowered contribute more to their families, societies, and national economies. It has been shown that women invest a lot of their income into their children.
6) Women Who Don’t Face Work Discrimination Can Contribute
There are several barriers that women face when it comes to finding a job. Once employed, there are more challenges.
They suffer from unequal access to education and training. They also face discrimination by their employers. Women earn on average about three-fourths of the pay that men receive for the same job. This is true for developed as well as developing countries.
7) Income Equality Benefits People Through The Generations
These barriers and challenges need to be removed. If income equality was achieved across gender lines, this could help decrease poverty through the generations.
8) Educated Women Contribute More To Society
One of the most effective ways to fight poverty and improve poor communities is through investment in the education of girls and women. Schooling can help them stand up to the injustices they face. It can also help economic growth and improve stability.
However, around the world, more than 75 million primary school-age children are not in school. More than half of these children are girls, and 75 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Worldwide, 20% of primary-age girls are not in school, compared to 16% of boys in this age group.
In poor communities, girls are more likely to be deprived of an education than boys. There are plenty of reasons for this. The main reason is that families often want a girl’s help in the home.
In many cultures, girls are expected to marry at a young age without having an education. The cost of tuition and the fact that girls tend to drop out of school at higher rates are other reasons.
When schools are far away, parents may hesitate to allow their daughters to walk the long distances alone.
9) Education Reduces The Risk Of Crime and Trafficking
Education is vital. Primary and secondary school education can create increased job opportunities and allow women to earn higher wages. Girls who pursue secondary education are at a significantly lower risk of engaging in crime or falling victim to human trafficking.
10) Educated Women Are Less Likely To Become Trapped In Marriage
Educated women marry later and have fewer children. If cultural expectations towards a women’s role as a wife and child-bearer are more relaxed, she has the chance to earn more money and provide for her family.
This article has shown that educated and empowered women can help to make the world a better place. How do you think that women’s earning power and education could be improved? Head over to our Facebook page to tell us!