Why the majority of the world’s poor are women
by Oxfam International, agencies
Gender inequality is one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of inequality in the world. It denies women their voices, devalues their work and make women’s position unequal to men’s, from the household to the national and global levels.
Despite some important progress to change this in recent years, in no country have women achieved economic equality with men, and women are still more likely than men to live in poverty.
Lower-paid, unpaid, undervalued: gender inequality in work
Low wages. Across the world, women are in the lowest-paid work. Globally, they earn 23 percent less than men and at the current rate of progress, it will take 170 years to close the gap. 700 million fewer women than men are in paid work.
Lack of decent work. 75 percent of women in developing regions are in the informal economy – where they are less likely to have employment contracts, legal rights or social protection, and are often not paid enough to escape poverty. 600 million are in the most insecure and precarious forms of work.
Unpaid care work. Women do at least twice as much unpaid care work, such as childcare and housework, as men – sometimes 10 times as much, often on top of their paid work. The global value of this work each year is estimated at $10 trillion – which is equivalent to one-eighth of the world’s entire GDP.
Longer work days. Women work longer days than men when paid and unpaid work is counted together. That means globally, a young woman today will work on average the equivalent of four years more than a man over her lifetime.
Increasing women’s economic equality would reduce poverty for everyone
Gender inequality in the economy costs women in developing countries $9 trillion a year – a sum which would not only give new spending power to women and benefit their families and communities, but would also provide a massive boost to the economy as a whole.
Countries with higher levels of gender equality tend to have higher income levels, and evidence from a number of regions and countries shows closing the gap leads to reduction in poverty.
In Latin America for instance, an increase in the number of women in paid work between 2000 and 2010 accounted for around 30 percent of the overall reduction in poverty and income inequality.
Supporting women to have access to quality and decent work and improve their livelihoods is therefore vital for fulfilling women’s rights, reducing poverty and attaining broader development goals.
Women’s economic empowerment is a key part of achieving this. We need a human economy that works for women and men alike, and for everyone, not just a few.
* Read Oxfam’s report “An economy that works for women”, via the link below.
* 70% of world’s hungry are women, says UN expert on right to food: http://bit.ly/1ROHxkf http://bit.ly/1UUUtaW
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Child poverty increased in the majority of rich countries between 2008 and 2014
by Unicef Office of Research
Global recession and austerity hit children in high-income countries. (unicef)
Nearly ten years after the first financial shock waves rippled through the world economy, generating a global recession, the track record of high income countries in protecting children from its worst effects, is mixed.
A new book, Children of Austerity: Impact of the Great Recession on child poverty in rich countries, published by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, in collaboration with sixteen international research institutions, provides a detailed account of the effects of the crisis, and government policy responses to it, on children in high income countries.
“Across the rich countries of the world large numbers of children were severely affected by the global economic crisis, with child poverty – anchored to pre-crisis levels – increasing in many countries,” said UNICEF Innocenti’s Yekaterina Chzhen, co-editor of the volume and lead author of the comparative chapter. “This is the first international study of the effects of the crisis and government responses, with explicit emphasis on children in rich countries.”
The country case studies focus on Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. In-depth analysis of the wide-ranging experiences provides valuable lessons about protecting children during economic crises, since the selected countries cover the whole spectrum in terms of their circumstances prior to the crisis, the severity of the crisis’ impact within their borders, and their national policy responses.
The majority of the 41 industrialized countries experienced peak-to-trough falls in GDP of between 2 and 9 per cent between 2006-8 and 2009-14. Eight countries, including Ireland, Italy, and Greece, saw double digit reductions.
While the study uses a range of poverty measures, the headline results refer to ‘anchored’ child poverty – the share of children under 18 living in households with incomes after taxes and transfers below 60 per cent of the national median in the pre-crisis years (i.e. 2007/8), adjusted for inflation.
The recent economic crisis and subsequent austerity hit children particularly hard - Between 2008 and 2014, child poverty increased in two-thirds of European countries; with increases of over 15 percentage points in Cyprus, Iceland and Greece and of 7-9 percentage points in Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Spain.
Spending on families and children in Europe fell when it was most needed – Not a single European country increased the share of spending on family benefits and two-thirds reduced per capita spending, while spending on pension benefits increased across the board between 2010 and 2013.
Cuts in spending on health, education and other public services hurt families with children – Income poverty statistics mask other forms of hardship. The rates of ‘unmet medical need’ rose significantly among the poorest households in Greece and significant cuts in health and education spending affected children in Spain.
The crisis and austerity highlighted stark regional disparities – ‘Anchored’ child poverty increased to 20 per cent in northern Italy and to 50 per cent in southern Italy between 2008 and 2014; in the UK, Northern Ireland’s child poverty rate increased from 23 per cent to 27 per cent, while decreasing 2-4 points in Scotland, England and Wales.
Child poverty in the United States did not increase as much as expected - while unemployment nearly doubled, there was a marginal increase in ‘anchored’ child poverty in the US. An expansion in the coverage of the social safety net during the crisis moderated its impact on families with children.
“Protecting family income during downturns is central to addressing child poverty, but not adequate on its own. Children are also severely affected when there are cuts in spending on schools and health facilities, and when parents cannot access essential services such as childcare,” said Chzhen.
“The book’s message is that to protect children in good times and in bad, governments should prioritize a combination of universal income support that is social insurance-based and means-tested, with health and education spending, directed towards those in greatest need.”
According to Children of Austerity experience before and during the worst period of the crisis shows how politically challenging maintaining a well-directed, adequately resourced social support structure for families with children, can be.
While not a panacea, adequate child-focused payments are a potentially powerful element in the overall social safety net for both working and non-working families. Such payments must be part of a coherent anti-poverty strategy that includes not only social protection but also employment, education and childcare policies.
Food for thought on measuring child food insecurity, by Audrey Pereira.
Food is a basic necessity of life. However these are the grim statistics: one in four children are stunted, approximately half of all deaths among children under 5 are attributable to malnutrition, and in the developing world alone, 66 million children of primary school age go to school hungry. These numbers are alarming and unacceptably high. And yet, they may actually underestimate the true extent of food insecurity.
Food insecurity goes beyond the problem of not having enough food to eat. It includes aspects of food quality and nutritional and non-nutritional consequences of inadequate access to food.
Ironically, without data on how many children are food insecure, or where they live, we hope to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2.1, which calls for an end to hunger by 2030.
Understanding the extent of child food insecurity requires a range of sources of data on household food practices.
Children are well aware of food insecurity in terms of decreased quality and quantity of food. They recognize parental hardships, such as stress about food, and actively look for methods to alleviate it.
Most importantly, children recognize how important food is for well-being, and grasp the complex social, economic and political factors surrounding it.
Although it is not feasible to ask very young children about their experiences of food insecurity, some research has explored self-reports of food insecurity among older children, or even investigated food consumption to understand age and gender dynamics around food. At the recent Seventh International Conference on Agricultural Statistics held at FAO in October 2016, among the research presented were analyses that explored child and adolescent food insecurity.
The UNICEF Office of Research—Innocenti presented preliminary research using Gallup World Poll data, which measures food insecurity as part of the Voices of the Hungry project. The analysis uses the Food Insecurity Experience Scale to develop proxy measures for global child food insecurity, and suggests that although the prevalence of food insecurity among households with children under 15 is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of the burden lies in South Asia.
Also presented at the conference was evidence from the Young Lives study in India, which showed significant differences in intra-household food allocation by gender during mid-adolescence. The longitudinal study showed a pro-boy gap at age 15 in the number of food groups consumed, and that boys ate more nutritious foods than girls. Previous research in Ethiopia found that adolescent girls were more likely to report being food insecure than adolescent boys.
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