Women and Equality

Women have often been marginalized from the workforce. This is occurring because women, as a group, make up over half of the world’s population, but their contribution to measured economic activity, growth, and well being is far below its potential leading to serious macroeconomic consequences.

Women are also treated like they are insignificant because:

  • Women account for most unpaid work
  • Female labor force participation has remained lower than male participation
  • When women are employed in paid work, they are overrepresented in the informal sector and among the poor
  • The salary earned by women is far less than a male who is completing the same tasks
  • In many countries, the paid work options for women are slim
  • Literacy rates for women lag those of men

Women are also marginalized in the workforce because of the way their role is viewed in the family structure. In many societies women are seen as the one responsible for raising the children, cleaning, cooking and taking care of the household. The male is viewed as the worker, who will go out and seek work.

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Changes that could be made in order to increase female contribution to the workforce positively can start in so many different areas. Equal access to inputs would raise the productivity of female owned companies. If companies owned by women were allowed equal access to these resources, the productivity gap between the male and female owned companies would be decreased. Employing women on an equal basis would allow companies to seek out different options for the talent pool and allow more opportunities, which could potential increase growth. Another change that could be made would be to remove the disincentives for secondary earners in households. This would encourage women to find work outside of the home without worrying about any financial consequences. In general, women are offered fewer opportunities just because of their gender.

Sudan is the country I am choosing to focus on for the final project. Women presence in the workforce has been consistent. For the past four years only 31% of women are involved in the workforce, with no real improvement.

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Unemployment in the Sudan particularly affects young people and women. For young women, the unemployment rate is 44.8% and for adult women it is twenty eight percent. However, 52% of health workers in the Sudan are female, which is not a good reflection of the overall participation of women in the workforce at 25.5%.

Female labor force in the Sudan was at its highest value over the past 21 years with 28% in 2011, and the lowest value was 25.80% in 1993.

Sudan is also one of the two countries in the MENA region, other than Iran, that has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The formal legal system in Sudan does not grant women equal rights to men in matters of personal marriage, inheritance and divorce.

I believe that micro financing women in order to allow them to start up their own business, and make money for their family can eventually have a positive impact. This allows them to be self-sufficient and provide for their families and communities. However, there needs to be proof of economic development and growth. In the certain cases where growth is prevalent, micro financing can be successful.

Giving the poor an opportunity to prove themselves as entrepreneurs can and will improve the economic status of these countries. These loans create opportunities for the communities to learn a new business, make their own money and support their family without asking the village leaders for help. Because there are so many problems in Sub-Saharan Africa with corruption and discrimination against women, I think it is important to stay involved and support the idea of micro loans. The system does need improvement, but in the long term the idea can generate success and jobs.

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South Sudan currently utilizes the benefits of micro loans. Finance Sudan Limited currently operates in South Sudan. It was established in 2006 by the American Refugee Committee. The mission of Finance Sudan Limited is to contribute to the economic rebuilding and stabilization of South Sudan by providing quality financial services to low-income borrowers through sustainable microfinance with a national scope. The targeted group is comprised of small-scale traders, produce dealers and salaried workers. However, the market in the South Sudan is highly underdeveloped when dealing with micro financing.

Three types of loans are offered through Finance Sudan Limited:

  1. Group loans (FSSL Group Loan & Nuswan/Women Development Loans) that are administered through the group guarantee system.

    2. SME loans offered to small and medium-scale businesses with formal collateral.

    3. Salary loans offered to employees at reputable organizations operating in South Sudan.

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