SEATTLE, Washington — All around the world, levels of poverty differ across many demographics. In particular, there are stark gaps between the number of impoverished men and women. Around 330 million women live in poverty, while male poverty levels are lower, at around 325 million. Countries around the world are working towards solutions to lessen the amount and difficulty of obstacles many women face, but there is a long way to go. For more insight on gendered poverty and the actions being taken to eradicate it, The Borgen Project interviewed Professor Giorgi from California Polytechnic University in Pomona.
Limited Opportunities and Problems for Women Workers
A lack of employment opportunities is one reason why women struggle disproportionately more than men. Less than half of women are employed or looking to be a part of the labor force in many countries. For example, in Yemen, women earn around 28% of what men make. In India, women earn roughly 25% of male income.
Employment comes easier for men. Employers choose them first for both heavy-duty jobs such as construction as well as non-physical labor jobs like administrative positions. On top of that, many often see being a mother or caretaker as a full-time job in itself. In countries where traditional expectations of women are still prominent, it is nearly impossible for women to put household responsibilities on hold and seek paid employment.
The exploitation of female workers around the world is an issue that many women face. From working longer hours to tolerating terrible labor conditions, employers exploit women in exchange for the flexible schedule required to take care of families back at home. Since the female employees are often working to support their families as well, they are less likely to retaliate against their places of employment because of the possible impact on their home lives.
Bolivia is an example of a developing nation doing great work towards ending gender inequality in the workforce. According to the Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2014, Bolivia’s parliament was made up of a little more than 46% women. Being one of the countries with the most female parliamentarians, Bolivia recognizes the discrepancies of the country’s gendered pay gap. For starters, the government has worked towards guaranteeing the rights of female citizens by providing the necessary documents to prove female citizenship. Having rights is a basic step towards women securing a voice and giving them a newfound support system.
Bolivia is also working towards closing the pay wage gap between men and women. In 2006, Bolivia’s Global Gender Gap score was 0.634. In 2020, Bolivia’s score improved to 0.734 which is closer to 1.00, or the most equal a country can be. The average worldwide labor force participation rate has a score of 0.661, which Bolivia falls beneath at 0.623. However, the rate has increased since 2006 and is trending upwards.
Peru is another country working towards alleviating gendered poverty. From 2012 to 2017, Peru launched the National Gender Equality Plan to aid the most vulnerable women of the country. This initiative specifically helped represent groups of women who had additional struggles, such as victims of domestic abuse, women living in rural locations and women who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2019 and 2020, Peru launched a new initiative called Gender Equality Policy that specifically works towards ending discrimination against women in the labor force. As a result, Peru has seen a decrease in disparities based on gender in their labor force. Peru’s labor force participation now has a score of 0.652, which is on the upward trend towards surpassing the world’s average.
Education, which many women sadly lack, is crucial for working towards upward mobility. It opens a lot more opportunities for women to find safe, reliable employment and overcome or avoid falling into poverty. After much effort, Peru’s educational attainment now has a score of 0.981, nearly a perfect 1.00.
The Future of Women Workers
As the world gradually works towards a more progressive state, the futures of women workers are in good hands. Countries like Estonia, Venezuela and Portugal proved this true in the last decade. Their rates of employment between genders, educational attainment levels and overall factors that contribute towards upward mobility are all improving. With the rise of feminism comes the fall of gendered poverty. As women are increasingly empowered and take on more opportunities and endeavors to escape poverty, it very well may soon be the norm for a woman to pursue and succeed in her career anywhere in the world.
– Karina Wong