SEATTLE, Washington — In 2017, the World Bank partnered with U.N. Women to release data regarding women in poverty. The study was based on research gathered from 89 different countries in the developing world. It was the first to focus on the “gender gap” that exists among the world’s poor. The study demonstrated that working-age women are 22 percent more likely than men to live in extreme poverty globally. Organizations like Trickle up are using this data to prove that lifting women out of poverty is essential.
Women ages 20 to 34 were more likely to live in poverty. This age range coincides with a woman’s peak reproductive years. One reason women face more poverty than men during their reproductive years is that they are more likely to bear the brunt of child-raising responsibilities. A woman will often miss out on years of paid employment opportunities for the sake of her family. Considering the loss in income associated with raising a family, it follows that supporting a child or multiple children would put additional strain on a family’s resources.
The Costs of Women in Poverty
At the root of the issue lies the inherent sexism that is pervasive among most cultural and many governmental practices. Women often lack the same access to education as men, especially in developing countries. Without equal access to education, women are precluded from many job opportunities or from equal pay to their male counterparts. According to U.N. Women, more than 2.7 billion women are actually restricted by laws from holding the some of the same jobs as men.
According to Oxfam, economies in developing countries lose $9 trillion per year in lost contributions due to gender inequality. In the U.N. Women’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 193 member states agree that gender equality is integral in meeting all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Lifting women out of poverty is essential, but there are many factors that must be addressed in order to account for all the inequalities that women face globally.
Trickle Up is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide impoverished communities with the resources to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Women make up the majority of Trickle Up participants globally since Trickle Up identifies women as a vulnerable population with vast untapped potential for growth and development. Trickle Up uses a multilateral approach to address the vast array of issues that women in poverty face. Trickle Up believes that lifting women out of poverty will create a more equitable, just and prosperous society for all.
The Borgen Project spoke to Bill Abrams, President of Trickle Up, to understand how empowering women can create a self-sufficient cycle of development. Abrams said being able to earn an income increases women’s confidence. “They take on a greater decision-making role in their households and become more socially and politically engaged. Women become leaders and work collectively to advocate for community improvements like better roads, housing and access to markets and healthcare.” Abrams believes this outcome is one of the most important elements that Trickle Up works towards.
Ways to Lift Women Out of Poverty
Essentially, Abrams and Trickle Up believe the issue of poverty stems from the systematic exclusion of women from economic and political decisions. The organization believes steps must be taken to ensure women are afforded the resources and opportunities necessary for growth before they’re expected to lift themselves out of poverty.
Trickle Up connects participants to local programs that provide benefits such as health services or literacy training. Trickle Up’s on-the-ground approaches to ending poverty are unique and effective because they target many of the political and cultural issues that contribute to the marginalization of women and other vulnerable groups.
While localized efforts are crucial, Trickle Up also operates on a broader level by working with policymakers to “ensure national social policies prioritize the most vulnerable people, especially women, so they have an equal opportunity to build a better life and exercise their rights,” Abrams told the Borgen Project. Lifting women out of poverty is a complex, multifaceted issue. However, with a dynamic and holistic approach such as the one that Trickle Up uses, achieving sustainable growth is possible.
– Erin Grant