Week 14: Women and the Economy

Women have gained a lot of experience in the areas of environment, family, and community development. However, the lives of women are still very different from the lives of men. Even though studies, including a 2002 World Bank study, have proven that gender equality is helpful to the economy, there is still a wide gap between genders. Many women have little access to an education or any chance of having a career because of situations like child marriage or the high fertility rate. They also face health risks such as genital mutilation and exposure to disease. Women cultivate over 50 percent of all food that is grown in the world according to Inter Press Service, but many still go unpaid for their services.

Joyce Banda, the first female President of Malawi.

There have been strides to improve the gender equality in Africa. More women are becoming politicians. In 2012, Joyce Banda was elected the first female President of Malawi. As of 2013, there are more women registered to vote than men. In 1979, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This is often referred to as an “international bill of rights” for women and defines what is actually discrimination against women and how to end that discrimination. Another stride the world has made towards gender equality is through the creation of the MDGs. The third MDG is gender quality and empowering women.

More needs to be done to ensure that both of these strides are being followed through. In my opinion, access to education is something that needs to be a top priority for women. Not only is it difficult for women to find access to schools, but it is even more difficult to actually complete their schooling. I think policies need to be made to ensure that everyone has access to schooling, even if it’s not every day of the week. Another huge issue women face are maternal issues. Not only is the fertility rate extremely high forcing women to focus on motherhood alone, but deaths because of pregnancy complications and childbirth are still an issue affecting more than half a million women a year. 99 percent of these deaths occur in third world countries. I believe that better health care and access to birth control and other forms of contraception needs to be made a large priority for the government.

Many women still lack basic necessities and rights, so often times getting a job and participating in the economy isn’t an option. Women participate in a lot of unskilled labor and their salaries are very unstable. They also aren’t allowed to have as large of plots of land as men. Women are also forced into unpaid jobs like child-rearing and doing chores, which women typically spend 2 to 4 times more on than men.

However, in “Women, Work and the Economy.” there are multiple benefits named for societies when women have realized full economic viability. These benefits are:

-When women are able to develop their full labor market potential, there can be significant macroeconomic gains.
-In rapidly aging economies, higher FLFP can boost growth by mitigating the impact of a shrinking workforce.
-Better opportunities for women to earn and control income could contribute to broader economic development in developing economies, for instance through higher levels of school enrollment for girls.
-Equal access to inputs would raise the productivity of female-owned companies.
-The employment of women on an equal basis would allow companies to make better use of the available talent pool, with potential growth implications.


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