Women in many countries won’t be paid as much as men for another 75 years. That’s according to a new report released by Oxfam which shows that women are over-represented in part-time labour and are discriminated against across the G20 countries and beyond.
This is an issue that affects not only women, but all of us who live on this planet. Gender inequality is one of the biggest obstacles to ending poverty.
Women make up majority of those living in poverty and their unpaid but crucial contributions to our economy and our society are largely invisible in a system that does not value the impact of their work.
In the countries that make up the G20, women do an average of two to five hours unpaid work than men per day. The monetary value of unpaid care work which is mainly carried out by women is anything from 10% to 50% of GDP.
We know from experience that ending poverty starts with women, because when investment is directed into the hands of women, the whole community prospers.
That’s why women’s rights is at the heart of everything we do at Oxfam. A key part of our approach is empowering women to stand up for their rights, avail of the same opportunities and have their voices heard, which makes the world a better place.
For example, Oxfam’s Raising Her Voice project in Indonesia has helped to make local government more accessible to women, who have influenced the first participatory budget exercise in villages where the project was implemented. The impact of this greater participation in budgeting and planning is closer scrutiny and accountability of local government for the delivery of their programmes and plans.
And it’s not only society that benefits when women are treated as equal – the economy benefits too.
According to the report, the Eurozone’s GDP would increase by 13% if women’s paid employment rates were the same.
It clearly shows that the absence of women’s rights drives poverty, while their fulfilment drives development.
Gender equality is not a women’s only issue, it is a family issue, an economic issue and an issue for all of society. As long as women are denied equal opportunities all of us, in rich countries and in poor, are losing out.
‘The G20 and Gender Equality - How the G20 can advance women’s rights in employment, social protection and fiscal policies’ is co-published by Oxfam with the Heinrich Boell Foundation in advance of a G20 Business Summit being held this week in Australia.
Jim Clarken is Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland.