Statistics prove that poverty affects women more than men as women make up the majority of the world’s poor. The social structures and barriers in many, if not all, countries are the reasons for this accelerated rate of poverty among women. These barriers include gender wage gaps, the lack of access to decent working conditions and opportunities, the amount of unpaid work women do in their communities and households and the fact that their workdays are longer. Many organizations recognize these issues and are taking a stand against gendered poverty by empowering women.
The Importance of Empowering Women
It is important to include everyone’s needs in the fight against poverty. However, because poverty impacts women at an exacerbated rate, their empowerment and advancement in society create statistically higher rates of economic growth in countries where women are a priority. Across developing nations, women make up 40% of all farmers, yet they own as little as 1% of the land. When the narrative changes and women can own just as much land as men, crop yields have the potential to grow up to 10%.
Similarly, women and girls attend school at a much lower rate than men and boys. With just 10% more girls attending school, a nation can see its GDP expanding by about 3%. When women secure an economic opportunity that brings in an income, they tend to reinvest their earnings into their families and community. This means higher education rates, lower hunger rates, healthier family models (fewer child mortality, fewer unwanted pregnancies) and increased local economic growth.
U.N. Women Fights Gendered Poverty
The United Nations is currently making great progress by spearheading and promoting many projects around the world that focus on women first to eradicate poverty. U.N. Women recognizes that zero poverty is not achievable without dissolving gender inequality and placing women at the center of development efforts.
U.N. Women initiatives have benefited more than 100,000 impoverished and disadvantaged women in 29 districts in India. As the result of one particular project, “more than 30,000 marginalized rural women now manage worksites and are able to ensure wages are paid and demand their rights under pension, social protection and livelihood programs,” the U.N. Women website says.
Chars Livelihoods Program (CLP)
The chars of Northwestern Bangladesh, or riverine islands, are susceptible to destruction through flooding and erosion. Many people living on these chars suffer from poverty and are vulnerable to losses of assets and livelihoods due to floods and erosion.
One program that put women at the center of its efforts is the Chars Livelihood Program (CLP), which ran in various phases from 2004 to 2016 through funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The program sought to help families rise out of poverty by giving women of households living in poverty investment capital, intellectual resources and economic courses and by educating communities on gender discrimination. These actions led to women investing in long-term, sustainable income-generating opportunities and familial betterment and saw women becoming more participatory in the community and taking control of their independence.
The first phase of the CLP (CLP-1) operated between 2004 and 2010 on the chars of the Jamuna River. CLP-1 aimed to assist 55,000 of the most impoverished families and is estimated to have positively benefited more than 900,000 individuals.
When countries find solutions to address gendered poverty, leaders can then start to eradicate poverty at the source. By giving women economic opportunity, social space and personal autonomy and empowerment, countries open up the globe’s playing field to a marginalized group that plays a significant role in global economic growth.
– Alexandra Curry