In the wake of International Women’s Day, Julian Omidi looks at the issues faced by women in poverty around the world.
On International Women’s Day the following meme was circulated to highlight the inequality that women experience around the world:
It was later shown that these statistics could not be fully substantiated by any sources, but it does raise the question of what women experience when it comes to poverty and inequality.
According to the Global Poverty Project statistics, despite the fact that women make up roughly 50% of the global population, women account for 70% of those living in poverty around the world. There are many different factors that lead to this inequality, so let’s take a look at some of these key issues.
- Gender Wage Gap – According to a recent article in the Washington Post, a lifetime gender wage gap of $431,000 exists between men and women in the United States. While life choices such as leaving the workforce to have children or deciding to work in a lower-paying occupation contribute to women earning roughly$0.77 for every $1 a man makes, when these life choices are factored out women still earn $0.91 for every dollar a man makes, a gap that many researchers identify as discrimination. The gender wage gap is not just a problem in the United States; in both developed and developing nations there can be a significant wage gap between men and women. In developed nations such as South Korea and Japan men earn wages 30% higher than women. In Germany and Canada the percentage gap exceeds 20% as well. In countries in Africa the wage gap (as of 2007) varied from 61% in Morocco to 80% in Egypt.
- Stages of Life for Girls and Women in Poverty – The Global Poverty Info Bank provides a thorough look at the problems facing women in poverty from birth to adulthood, and it is highly suggested that to get a comprehensive picture of the inequalities that women face that you read it for yourself. Some of the important factors that are examined include the higher risk that baby girls born into poverty face of female infanticide, lack of proper feeding and nutrition in favor of a male child, and genital mutilation that can result in infection, pain, or even premature death. When women reach child-bearing age many die during childbirth due to undernourishment or associated disease; in fact, roughly 99% of the women who die during child birth annually live in developing nations, roughly a girl or woman every minute.
The question now becomes “What Can Be Done?” Some of the best courses of action include:
- Education – Making sure that young girls and women have access to education and are enrolled in primary school is crucial. Women that have at least basic literacy skills have a better chance to succeed in the work force and make higher earnings, have lowered maternal mortality rates, and are more likely to send their own children to school.
- Micro-Credit Provisions – As proven in Bangladesh, women that have access to small loans are able to make better financial decisions, have increased awareness regarding legal and political issues, and have more financial mobility.
Promoting female empowerment and equality will help in the global effort to eradicate poverty and provide a better future for the women of the world in the present and future.