In 2006, the Economist proclaimed that women are “the world’s most underutilized resource.” While gender equality mainly entails giving women rights and opportunities that are equal to those which men have, achieving this equality will provide benefits to all. Here are four benefits of gender equality:
- Increased human resources spur economic growth
Raising female employment to be equal to male employment levels could increase GDP by 34 percent in Egypt, by 12 percent in the United Arab Emirates, by 10 percent in South Africa and by nine percent in Japan. Empowering women to become active in their economy boosts productivity, a benefit that could help the poorest countries rise out of poverty. Based on these findings, many international companies have created programs to empower women economically and improve the productivity of their business.
- More resources reach children
When women have more control over family resources, spending patterns tend to benefit children. Gains in women’s education and health have also been shown to result in better outcomes for children. Improving the lives of young people enhances the growth prospects of their countries.
- Decision-making is more reflective of collective interests
Empowering women politically and economically so that they have a voice in the decision-making process of their community makes community policies more reflective of all members’ interests. In India, increased political participation by women has lead to more funding being allocated towards public goods, such as water and sanitation initiatives.
- Family planning improves quality of life
When women are empowered to make decisions about when to have a child, the quality of their children’s life improves. Children born less than two years apart are twice as likely to die in the first year of life as children born further apart. Being unable to spread out pregnancies also interferes with breastfeeding, which has a crucial role in child nutrition.
Nestlé has decided to promote gender equality as a means of improving their business. The company partnered with COPAZ in 2010, a female cocoa cooperative in the Ivory Coast that has about 600 members.In 2014, Nestlé expanded its efforts to empower women by establishing local women’s associations, listing the wives of male cocoa farmers as members of cocoa cooperatives and helping women to increase their crop yield.
Several other companies, including Coca-Cola, Kate Spade & Company, Avon Products and Abbott Laboratories have realized that promoting gender equality is both a morally and economically sound investment. Unlocking women’s potential will improve life for both genders.
– Kristen Nixon