In the 21st century women enjoy freedom and power than ever before. However, they are still disadvantaged when compared to men in virtually all aspects of life. Women are deprived of equal access to education, health care, capital and decision making powers in the political, social and business sectors. Whereas men are credited with performing three quarters of all the economic activities in developing countries, women actually perform 53% of the work, according to the UN.
An estimated $16 trillion in global output is currently invisible, of which $11 trillion is estimated to be produced by women. International women’s day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women yet progress has slowed in many places across the world, and global action is needed to accelerate gender parity. This movement is celebrated by sole theme each year; this year’s theme touches on the women in the changing world of work planet 50-50 by 2030.
It’s the time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extra ordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. The idea of this theme is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 agenda, building women momentum for the effective implementation for the effective implementation of new sustainable development goals, achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The world of work is changing and with significant implications for women. On one hand, we have globalization, technological and digital revolution and the opportunities they bring, and on the other hand, the growing informality of labor, unstable livelihoods and incomes, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts all of which must be addressed in the context of women’s economic empowerment.
Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to the economies, whether in business, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home. But they also remain disproportionally affected by poverty, discrimination and exploration. Gender discrimination means women always end up insecure, low wage jobs, and constitute a small minority of those in senior positions. It curtails access to economic assets such as land and loans. It limits participation in shaping economic and social policies, and because women perform the bulk of household work, they often have little time left to pursue economic opportunities.
The real tragedy is that women are often better economic stewards of capital than men; women are more likely to reinvest profits back into human capital than are men. When women have economic power- defined as control of income and capital (land and livestock) they gain more equality and control over their own lives while contributing directly to their children’s development and thereby indirectly to their nation’s income growth.
Women’s economic empowerment could ease corruption and violence, promote greater environmental sustainability, and through education. Women’s education and economic empowerment is not only a matter of human rights but also human insecurity. Until societies, governments and NGOs around the world come together and make a concentrated effort to empower and grant equality to women, the world will be stuck in the past, and human well-being will never truly realize its full, vigorous potential.
Written by Amina Martha