Women's Incomes

It is through gainful employment that woman has traversed most of the distance that separated her from the male; and nothing else can guarantee her liberty in practice.

-Simone De Beauvoir

 

If more women earned and controlled their own money...

almost all measures of human development would improve, including economic growth, poverty and inequality, health and education, and in the long-run potentially peace and security. But the proportion of women who are employed globally has remained stuck at around 50% since 2000, and there are an estimated 1.4 billion non-employed women in the world today. These women represent a vast, untapped source for human development.

As the majority (60%) of non-employed women live in just ten high population countries, including India, China, the United States of America and Pakistan, their labor market engagement has global implications. And just as importantly, in the smaller population countries with extremely low (<20%) female employment, including Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt, increasing women’s employment could yield major national and regional development returns.

Accordingly, all countries should make increasing women’s employment a central plank of national development policies by setting ambitious targets to increase the female employment to population ratio to above 50% by 2020 and to above 60% by 2030. To achieve this, countries should endorse policies and implement programs that simultaneously increase the supply of women who are “work-enabled” and the demand for their employment. It is important that all policies and programs are designed to specifically benefit women on the lowest incomes and women with dependent children, as they so often face steeper barriers to earning income. Prioritizing progress among these women should also maximize reductions in poverty and inequality and improvements in population health. The ultimate goal is to equalize male and female employment to population ratios over time.

The United Nations and its agencies should elevate women’s employment to center stage in the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030), ensure that all UN agencies understand the primacy of women’s incomes to development, and incorporate a women’s employment agenda into their programs. Getting back on the convergence track with women’s and men’s employment ratios could drive the next wave of global growth and development.

Back On Track

Equalizing women's & men's employment ratios could drive the next wave of global development. #JustActions

Financial Control

If more women earned & controlled their own money, all measures of development would improve. #JustActions

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Most women live in societies where access to money determines quality of life. Money is required to buy food and clothing, housing, healthcare, education and transportation. But most women do not enjoy the same access to money as men do, and the freedom and control it offers.