Securing women’s rights is a proven path to fair, peaceful, and prosperous societies. Source: UN Women. - Photo: 2024

One in Every Ten Women in the World Lives in Extreme Poverty

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK | 8 March 2024 (IDN) — In a world facing multiple crises that put enormous pressure on communities, achieving gender equality is more vital than ever. Ensuring women’s and girls’ rights across all aspects of life is the only way to secure prosperous and just economies and a healthy planet for future generations.

According to UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, one of the key challenges in achieving gender equality by 2030 is an alarming lack of financing, with a staggering USD 360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender-equality measures.

On International Women’s Day, UN Women has called for the world to “Invest in Women, Accelerate Progress” as the best way to accelerate economic growth and build more prosperous, equitable societies.

This is particularly urgent when war and crisis are eroding the achievements of decades of investments in gender equality. From the Middle East to Haiti, Sudan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, women pay the highest price for conflicts that are not of their making. The need for peace has never been more urgent.

Climate change is accelerating persistent poverty gaps. As competition for scarce resources intensifies, livelihoods are threatened, societies become more polarized, and women bear an increasingly heavy burden:

  • One in every ten women in the world lives in extreme poverty.
  • The number of women and girls living in conflict-affected areas doubled since 2017; now, more than 614 million women and girls live in conflict-affected areas. In conflict areas, women are 7.7 times more likely to live in extreme poverty.
  • Climate change is set to leave 236 million more women and girls hungry by 2030, twice as many as men (131 million).
  • Only 61 per cent of women are in the labour force at prime working age, compared to 90 per cent of men.
Missing out on the gender equality dividend

“We cannot continue to miss out on the gender-equality dividend. More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments prioritized education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanded social benefits,” says UN Women.

Investments in care services, such as daycare and elderly care, could create almost 300 million jobs by 2035. Closing gender employment gaps could boost gross domestic product per capita by 20 per cent across all regions.

The current reality is far from this. Programmes dedicated to gender equality represent only 4 per cent of official development assistance. To achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, an additional USD 360 billion per year is needed in developing countries. For example, this is less than one-fifth of the USD 2.2 trillion spent globally on military expenditures in 2022.

“The areas needing investment are clear and understood. First and foremost, there must be an investment in peace. Beyond this, the investments needed include laws and policies that advance the rights of women and girls, the transformation of social norms that pose barriers to gender equality, guaranteeing women’s access to land, property, health care, education, and decent work, and financing women’s group’s networks at all levels.”

UN Women has also called on Member States at the Commission on the Status of Women, starting in New York on 11 March 2024, to back up their commitments on gender equality with resources. “The world’s leaders have this opportunity to develop concrete and progressive agreed conclusions that reflect the crucial need for financing gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women’s organizations. They must seize it for equality, our planet, and the Sustainable Development Goals,” declares UN Women. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Securing women’s rights is a proven path to fair, peaceful, and prosperous societies. Source: UN Women.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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