Ending Gender Inequality
Gender inequality—the inequal treatment of people based on their sex—is a global issue that impacts everyone. While significant progress has been made in advancing gender equality, there is still much to be done. The COVID-19 pandemic has stalled progress on issues like time spent on unpaid care and domestic work, access to healthcare and financial services, and the lack of women in decision-making roles. Inequality also persists in the workplace. Women are paid less than men in most countries. And as a result, they are more likely to be victims of violence and poverty.
Achieving gender equality is key to ending global poverty, and the best way to start is by investing in women. When women can provide for themselves and their families, they are able to build more sustainable livelihoods. They can then reinvest their incomes in their communities, and help their neighbours to do the same. When women are able to earn enough money to support themselves and their families, their economic contributions increase overall and they can lift entire families out of poverty.
In many societies, it is expected that men will carry out certain jobs and occupations – such as construction, farming, mining and other manual labor. This is a key reason why women are paid less than men, even when they have the same education and experience. However, despite this fact, it is possible to close the wage gap by ensuring that women’s contributions are recognised and valued, including through a fair pay approach.
It is also important to recognise that gender inequality has a relationship with other forms of discrimination, such as racism. In the past, for example, a system called “race-based taxation” classified the labour of black slaves as “labor,” and therefore taxable, while that of white women was deemed to be “domestic” and thus non-taxable. This legacy of racial discrimination continues to play out today in the form of the pay gap between women of color and white women.
As the primary caretakers of their children, women have responsibilities outside of their paid employment. As a result, they spend more of their time on unpaid work than men, and they are often not recognised for this effort. This type of unpaid work is called “invisible labour,” and it contributes to the global gender gap.
Gender inequality also limits women’s ability to take on leadership roles and drive economic growth. This is particularly true in developing countries, where women’s leadership skills are needed for resource management and stewardship, climate action, disaster risk reduction, and economic prosperity.
To overcome gender inequality, it is necessary to address all the underlying issues. This includes tackling the discriminatory practices that impede women’s ability to invest their incomes in their businesses and communities; empowering girls with education and leadership skills so they can break the cycle of violence and exploitation; providing women with equal access to healthcare, affordable loans, and sustainable livelihoods; and ensuring that women are included in decision-making and policy-making processes.