Five Ways to Fight Gender InequalityThe struggle to attain global gender equality has been a centuries-long battle. Although the world has significantly progressed in women’s advancement and its goal of gender equality, women and girls disproportionately suffer from discrimination and violence. These injustices do, however, have a chance to be corrected through these five ways to fight gender inequality.

Five Ways to Fight Gender Inequality

    1. Give girls access to education.
      There are 130 million girls in the world who are not in school. Although there has been a significant boost in girls’ enrollment in schools, there is still much progress to be made. Girls are more likely than boys to never receive an education. There are 15 million girls in the world of primary-school age who will never enter a classroom, compared to about 10 million boys. Although there are countless boys and girls worldwide who face barriers when trying to receive an education, there are several specific forms of discrimination that only affect girls. These include forced marriages at a young age, gender-based violence in school settings and certain cultural or religious norms that restrict girls’ access to education.Education is an extremely valuable resource for girls. According to the World Bank, better-educated women tend to be healthier, participate in formal labor markets, earn higher incomes and marry at a later age. By receiving an education, girls can develop fundamental skills and gain invaluable knowledge that allows them to thrive in their careers and simply make decisions that will improve their lives.

      The Borgen Project is currently building support for the Keeping Girls in School Act (H.R.2153/ S.1071) which requires the Department of State and USAID to review and update the U.S. global strategy to empower adolescent girls. Click here to ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Keeping Girls in School Act: Email Congress

    2. Give women platforms to be in power and achieve economic success.
      Globally, women have less political representation than men. Around the world, 62 percent of countries have never had a female head of government or state for at least one year in the past half-century, including the United States. The number of women in political positions compared to men is alarmingly disproportionate. In global legislatures, women are outnumbered four to one. Gender equality in political positions is a rarity as only three countries have 50 percent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses. By having an equal presence of women in politics or leadership positions, the interests and values of females will be better represented on the political level.For many women, it is hard to achieve economic success and move up the socioeconomic scale. Throughout the world, women work for long hours of unpaid domestic jobs. In some places, females do not have the right to own land, earn an income and progress their careers due to job discrimination.

      The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act (S.2347) — signed into law in January 2019 — is one initiative that is aimed at removing several of these barriers through a number of policy objectives. One such policy change has to do with expanding support for small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned, managed and controlled by women.

    3. End violence and sexual assault against women.
      An unprecedented number of countries have laws against domestic violence and sexual assault. However, these laws often go ignored, jeopardizing women and girls’ rights to their safety and justice. Every day, 137 women across the world are killed by a family member or intimate partner. This statistic is a disturbing example of the severity of violence toward women.Females are more likely to experience sexual violence than men.Approximately 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide have been raped at some point in their lives. Beyond sexual harassment, women and girls are vulnerable to human trafficking as they account for 71 percent of all human trafficking victims. In many cases, females are trafficked as child brides and/or sold as sex slaves. The extent of sexual violence toward women and young girls is an extreme violation of human rights.
    4. Assure girls and women have access to menstrual health facilities.
      Menstrual hygiene management is necessary for girls and young women to attend school and participate in their daily lives, however, this necessity is not always guaranteed. The women most affected by ineffective menstrual care live in poverty. Often, girls will stay home from school when on their periods because they do not have access to sanitary products and/or their schools lack the necessary facilities.Dangerous ignorance and societal judgments about menstruation exist worldwide. Some cultures believe a menstruating girl causes harm to everything she touches. For instance, in rural Nepal, girls on their periods are sometimes forced out of their homes, forbidden from being in contact with people, animals and even plants. These girls are forced to stay in “menstrual huts” which can be harmful and potentially fatal. These misleading cultural taboos lead to ostracism, early marriage and the endangerment of girls’ futures. Young women in refugee camps also have a difficult time accessing safe and security sanitary products.

      Fortunately, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act (H.R.615) which “amends current standards of care for refugee women and children to include providing safe and secure access to sanitation facilities, especially for women, girls and vulnerable populations.”

    5. End child marriage.
      In some cultures, it is acceptable if not expected for girls to marry at a young age. Every year, 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 worldwide. Child marriage most affects girls and is mainly fueled by gender inequality and poverty. This practice is a violation of human rights as it prohibits women from making decisions about their own lives. It deprives young girls of a childhood and an education, but it also has other disturbing effects.Girls who are forced into marriage may be sexually harassed by their partner and have an increased risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, malaria and death from childbirth. Girls Not Brides is one of the most prominent organizations working to raise awareness on these issues by partnering with more than 1,000 civil societies across the globe.

These five ways to fight gender inequality are crucial to help women and girls around the world reach their full potential and ultimately attain gender equality.

– Marissa Pekular
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women Through Education and Entrepreneurship
A majority of the world’s poor are women, and gender inequality pervasive in countries around the world is a key reason for this occurrence. Women face barriers to obtaining education and entering the economy that men do not — globally, 33 million fewer girls than boys are enrolled in primary education, and women constitute 61 percent of the illiterate population between the ages of 15 and 24.

Education and Entrepreneurship

Empowering women through education and entrepreneurship reduces poverty by increasing their employability and enabling them to provide for their families and contribute to the economic development of their communities.

Without education, girls are more likely to be trafficked or become child brides; it is also more likely that women and their families will live in poverty. Education is crucial to the reduction of poverty, as it enables women to acquire jobs, help provide for their families and contribute to their local economy.

Women’s incomes rise between 10-20 percent per year of education they receive. This rise in income can be the factor that raises families out of poverty, as women reinvest 90 percent of their incomes into their families (50-60 percent more than men do). This can improve a family’s economic status and increases its food security.

Empowerment in the Workplace

However, many women and girls do not receive the education they need to acquire good jobs. Even women who can obtain an education are not guaranteed work in some developing countries where social norms relegate women to the domestic sphere. In fact, these options can often consign women to duties of housework and childcare and discourage them from entering the workforce.

By empowering women through education and entrepreneurship, women can break down these social norms that restrict not only their own success, but also the prosperity of their communities.

Women who are able to work still face substantial inequality. They often have lower incomes than men in the same positions, and more than one billion women cannot access basic financial services. For example, women farmers in many developing countries are restricted from owning land, accessing credit and acquiring productive resources.

Women also do not receive the same support from national and international development organizations as men do, though they on average produce higher values of output than men. Empowering women through education and entrepreneurship can reduce poverty by allowing women to be productive workers and contribute to the economy.

Economic Benefits of Female Empowerment

The World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that developing countries’ agricultural output would increase by between 2.5-4 percent if female farmers had equal access to productive agricultural resources and services. If such resources became available, it would reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by 150 million.

In Malawi and Ghana, improving women’s access to resources increased the production of corn by more than 15 percent, and Burkina Faso experienced a production gain of six percent when fertilizer and labor were reallocated on an equal basis.

With the rapidly rising global population, this increase in food production is crucial to people’s survival. In addition, if gender inequality and the financial barriers women face are addressed, $28 trillion could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025.

Addressing & Reducing Global Poverty

To reduce global poverty, the world needs women; but women need the opportunity to obtain an education and be a part of the economy. The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act both empower women. They both have the ability to reduce poverty by helping women achieve equality and would each cost less than $500,000 over a four-year period.

The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education Act would prioritize efforts to provide girls and women — particularly those in vulnerable settings such as conflict zones and refugee camps — access to safe primary and secondary education. It would focus on reducing discrimination against displaced girls and improving their educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act would require the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct a gender-analysis to identify and understand gender gaps so as to better address these in the workplace. Gender-specific measures to empower women would be established in USAID programs, and the agency would expand support for businesses owned and managed by women. The act also emphasizes the importance of eliminating gender-based violence.

Goal of Gender Equality

The United Nations, FAO, World Bank, World Economic Forum and others all recognize the importance of gender equality in the reduction of global poverty. The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act are two bills the United States government could pass to help solve the issue of gender inequality and poverty.

Empowering women through education and entrepreneurship will reduce poverty levels among current and future generations, and will benefit not only developing countries but the whole world as well. ­

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act
The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act (WEE) of 2018, H.R. 5480, was introduced in the House earlier this month. The House of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Representative Louis Frankle (D-FL-22), 
Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, worked together to propose this bipartisan legislation.

“By confronting these barriers women face, we can help lift people out of poverty and drive economic growth – by some estimates adding trillions of dollars to annual global GDP,” says Chairman Royce.

Introduction to the WEE Bill

The aim of the WEE bill is to improve the status of women worldwide through empowerment and education so that women play a greater role in entrepreneurship. An introduction to the “Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act” means that the bill would supplement programs that promote women’s economic roles through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The “Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act” specifically focuses on:

  • Ensuring the reduction of gender disparities including gender-based violence, women’s property rights and economic participation as part of U.S. policy
  • Ensuring that all USAID programs incorporate gender-specific issues in attempts to empower women
  • Advocating for small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned, controlled or managed by women
  • Increasing women’s use and jurisdiction over resources such as land and financial inclusion

It’s no secret that the majority of the world’s poor are women. According to the U.N. Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri, If women and men have the equal access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets, the consequent 20-30 percent increase in agricultural production on women’s farms could lead to 100-150 million less hungry people.”

U.N. Women and Women Everywhere

The Borgen Project’s main goal is to eliminate global poverty; nevertheless, the facts cannot be ignored that when women play a greater role in the economy, it brings innumerable benefits to the nation and the world as a whole. According to U.N. Women, by increasing female labor force participation, education, shared household income, and women’s overall participation in the economic world, it would bring exponential benefits to the country as a whole.

Not only would economic empowerment bring millions of families out of poverty, child mortality would decrease and economies grow faster. Finally, the Mckinsey Global Institute study proposes that “closing gender gaps in labour-force participation rates, part-time versus full-time work and the composition of employment would add 12-25 percent to global GDP by 2025.”

An introduction to the “Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act” understands the obstacles when empowering women’s economic standing. The bill symbolizes a step in the right direction for U.S. efforts to help eliminate global poverty.

– Emma Martin

Photo: Flickr