An unfortunate fact in the world today is that women earn less money than men, have less workplace stability, and have the least participation in the workforce. Recent statistics have indicated that women make up to 60% of the global working poor and they earn an average of 10% to 30% less than their male counterparts in comparable jobs. A recent report by the non-governmental organization ActionAid indicates that economic inequality brought about by gender disparity costs the world economy a tune of 9 trillion US Dollars annually. This enormous figure not only drags down the economic opportunities for women in the developing world, but also stagnates economic growth.
One of the greatest contributors to income inequality is the fact that mothers and wives naturally play a greater role in homemaking. However, the work these women do at home (preparing food, cleaning, nurturing children to maturity) often goes unnoticed and certainly unpaid. These tasks end up consuming the most productive years of a women’s life by removing them from active participation and influence in the nation and workforce.
Fortunately, global initiatives, such as those set forth by Agile International to empower women and girls in Africa, are taking place that to help ensure a positive future for the women of the developing world. Developing nations can learn from the projects currently underway in West Africa courtesy of Agile International. Land is indisputably one of the most valuable assets among humanity today. If more land is made available to women, and girls are given an equal opportunity in school like their male counterparts, the $9 trillion lost annually could be turned into a gain on the global economy. Africa for example, has vast idle lands and many untapped natural resources. With an estimated population of 1 billion and women constituting 52% of that figure, a united revolution of empowering women will catapult the continent to abundant riches and leave a considerable impact on the global economy.
Income inequality is therefore not just an economic issue but one also deeply rooted in social and political foundations. For example, many nations in Africa still hold the perception that women are better placed to be housewives and mothers rather than being working professionals alongside the their male counterparts. These perceptions become entangled with the political efforts to streamline laws and protect the rights of women and girls. This is happening in some countries like Kenya, where laws have been set up to make primary and secondary education compulsory and free. Kenya has also set up a commission to sensitize cultural communities against practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This commission is a great advancement in ensuring that teenage girls coming from rural communities do not miss or drop out of school due to these outmoded practices, another being early marriages.
In conclusion, income inequality will continue to affect the global economy as long as governments and organizations fail to focus on the empowerment of women to facilitate gender equality. Still, there is a beacon of hope with focused organizations, such as Agile International, that are spearheading crucial initiatives towards women empowerment.