Full Gender Equality Almost 300 Years Away at Current Rate of Progress15 September 2022
By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Sep 15 2022 (IPS)
While women in rich societies are paid around 25% less than men for equal jobs, those living in impoverished countries receive by far much lower salaries, if any at all.
Here are some facts. In its report: Why the majority of the world’s poor are women, a global movement of people fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice: OXFAM, says that gender inequality is one of the oldest and ‘most pervasive’ forms of inequality in the world.
Women do at least twice as much unpaid care work, such as childcare and housework, as men – sometimes 10 times as much, often on top of their paid work. The value of this work each year is estimated at least $10.8 trillion
It denies women their voices, devalues their work and makes women’s position unequal to men’s, from the household to the national and global levels, says OXFAM, adding that “in no country have women achieved economic equality with men.”
Lower-paid, unpaid, undervalued
Now see these facts OXFAM has provided:
Low wages. Across the world, women are in the lowest-paid work. Globally, they earn 24% less than men and at the current rate of progress, it will take 170 years to close the gap. 700 million fewer women than men are in paid work.
Lack of decent work. 75% of women in developing regions are in the informal economy – where they are less likely to have employment contracts, legal rights or social protection, and are often not paid enough to escape poverty. 600 million are in the most insecure and precarious forms of work.
Unpaid care work. Women do at least twice as much unpaid care work, such as childcare and housework, as men – sometimes 10 times as much, often on top of their paid work. The value of this work each year is estimated at least $10.8 trillion – more than three times the size of the global tech industry.
Longer workdays. Women work longer days than men when paid and unpaid work is counted together. That means globally, a young woman today will work on average the equivalent of four years more than a man over her lifetime.
Now take the specific case of rural women. They represent as many as a quarter of the world’s entire population. However, most women are concentrated in both unpaid care and household work and their role in subsistence farming is often unremunerated.
And less than 20% of landholders worldwide are women.
On average, women make up more than 40% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, ranging from 20% in Latin America to 50% or more in parts of Africa and Asia, according to the United Nations.
Across the world, food systems depend on the daily work of rural women, reminds the UN Women, the United Nations’ organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
They play a variety of essential roles, from raising crops and processing their harvest, to preparing food and distributing their products, ensuring that both their families and communities are nourished.
“Yet paradoxically those same women often have less access to food and a higher risk of hunger, malnutrition, undernutrition and food insecurity than their male counterparts.”
The reasons for this disconnection from their right to food include “unequal power relations and discriminatory gender norms, for example, resulting in women eating last and least in the household, as well as their disproportionate responsibility for unpaid caregiving and domestic work.”
70% of women, in poverty
“Seventy percent of women live in poverty. As we chip away at the natural world, daily tasks like securing water, food, and fuel, often done by women and girls, take longer and become harder, stated Inger Andersen UN Under-secretary-general and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on 8 September.
They are the farmers for the world
And we all know that women are the farmers for the world but often don’t have rights to land or land titles, Anderson underlined. “Women own less than 10 percent of the land and here in Africa, four in five women lack access to a bank account or formal financial institution.”
At the current rate of progress, it may take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, the UN “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): The Gender Snapshot 2022” report shows.
The report estimates that it will take up to 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and at least 40 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments.
Sima Bahous, UN Women Executive Director, said: “The data show undeniable regressions in their lives made worse by the global crises—in incomes, safety, education, and health. The longer we take to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all.”
Some 400 million women in “extreme poverty”
At the current rate of progress, the report estimates that it will take up to 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and at least 40 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments.
The report also points to a worrisome reversal on the reduction of poverty, and rising prices are likely to exacerbate this trend. By the end of 2022, around 383 million women and girls will live in extreme poverty (on less than USD 1.90 a day) compared to 368 million men and boys.
The 2022 International Equal Pay Day, on 18 September, just confirms such a shocking reality facing women: They earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn for work of equal value – with an even wider wage gap for women with children.
And women are concentrated in lower-paid, lower-skill work with greater job insecurity and under-represented in decision-making roles, “while carrying out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men.”
Add to the above another scourge: a third of all women are subjected to violence.
In fact, over 30% of women and girls have suffered physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner. And more than 70% of all sold, bought and enslaved victims of human smuggling and trafficking are women and girls — 3 out of 4 of them are sexually exploited.