Investing in women around the world
Investing in women around the world
Welcome to another Writer’s Corner. This week, resident writer Nike talks about something passionate to her - gender equality. With International Women’s Day around the corner, we can’t think of a better time to talk about it...
It’s only February, but we’re already excited for International Women’s Day, set to take place on the 8th of March 2019. It’s a time when businesses and NGOs make a collective effort to raise awareness about the problems facing women across the globe. And, while it’s only 2019, we are edging closer to the 2030 deadline to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Tackling the SDGs
On International Women’s Day, it’s time to focus on Goal 5 of the SDGs: Gender equality. This means ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls and empowering them to reduce global gender inequality. We have a tough task at hand. All this is supposed to happen within the next decade. That is why it’s more crucial than ever to invest in women and girls across the globe.
There is still a lot to overcome. One in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Women represent 13% of agricultural landowners despite making up 43% of the global agricultural workforce (rising to 80% in Africa). 750 million girls are married before their 18th birthday. And women make up 24% of national parliamentarians. Simple statistics like this from the United Nations Development Programme show that women are not even close to being equal across the globe. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t making progress. Governments, NGOs, and local communities are introducing new programmes to empower the world’s most disadvantaged women so they can access more opportunities and justice in their lives.
Educating girls and women is the single most effective way to drive human development. Not only does it benefit women; it benefits everyone - it’s the multiplier effect. The simple act of educating girls is not always simple to implement. There are cultural barriers we often need to overcome, but once we do, the benefits are clear as day.
Educating girls means:
When girls are in school, it raises their parents’ aspirations for them as someone who can be a productive member of the workforce. They are less likely to be a child bride and marry later on in life. The more years of schooling a woman has, the fewer children she is likely to have, leading to less strain on the world’s resources. This makes a significant impact in developing countries that have high birth rates and high levels of infant mortality. Children with educated mothers are more likely to survive infancy and be educated themselves, becoming productive forces in the economy.
Educated women are healthier women. They are more likely to use contraception, reducing the spread of HIV (SDG goal 3.3), which shows the interconnectivity of sustainable development issues.
Educated women are more able to escape the cycle of poverty. They find paying jobs and earn higher wages. Women with wealth and property have increased bargaining power in their relationships and are more able to make decisions in the household. This bodes well for the members as studies show that when women take control of household income, their families are more likely to benefit from it as they spend more on family goods while men spend more on personal items.
This has led to a change in the way we give aid. For example, in Haiti, food vouchers were distributed to women only as food would be divided more equitably in the household. Even in developed countries like the U.S., children are less likely to experience food insecurity when the mother controls the household income.
While the western world is currently seeing a rise in anti-feminism, the evidence is there that striving for equality for men and women, particularly in developing countries, benefits everyone.
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