Invest in women
Investing in women yields multiple dividends: it helps women claim their rights and realize their potential, while benefiting the economy and society as a whole.
Investing in women means changing systems that discriminate against women and believing in women as agents of change. Equalizing opportunities for education and health, employment and participation in public life provides returns for generations. Countries that no longer limit the participation of one half of society can fully capitalize on their competitive potential in today’s world economy.
- The Economist estimates that over the past decade, women’s work has contributed more to global growth than has China.
- The UN Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women reported in 2001 that eliminating gender inequality in the labour market in Latin America would both increase women’s wages by about 50% and increase national output by 5%.
- The Economist notes that if Japan raised the share of working women to American levels, it would boost annual growth by 0.3% over 20 years.
- Research in Africa shows that reducing structural gender inequality can increase agricultural yields by more than 20%. For example, a 1996 study conducted in Kenya estimated that crop yields could rise up to 22% if women farmers enjoyed the same education and decision-making authority as men.
- Worldwide the Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) estimates that for every year beyond fourth grade that girls attend school, wages rise 20%, child deaths drop 10% and family size drops 20%.
- Countries that do not meet the internationally-agreed target of gender parity in education risk foregoing 0.1–0.3 percentage points annually in per capita economic growth, according to a 2004 estimate by development economists Dina Abu-Ghaida and Stephan Klasen.
- If men and women had equal influence in decision-making, the incidence of underweight children less than three years old in South Asia would fall by up to 13%, resulting in 13.4 million fewer malnourished children; in Sub-Saharan Africa, an additional 1.7 million would be adequately nourished, UNICEF studies show.
- In export industries, women provide up to 80% of the labour force in sectors such as textiles or electronics.
- Evidence from micro-credit lenders indicates that women have superior repayment records, invest more productively and are more risk-averse.
- Research shows that shareholders benefit from greater corporate representation of women. In analyzing the companies that make up the Fortune 500, Catalyst found that companies with the highest representation of women in management positions delivered 35.1% more return on equity and 34% more total return to shareholders than companies with the lowest representation.
- 60% of senior executives said that domestic violence, which limits women’s participation, has a harmful effect on their company’s productivity, in a recent survey by the American Institute on Domestic Violence. It also found that lost productivity and earnings due to intimate partner violence costs the US almost $1.8 billion each year, and that domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year — the equivalent of over 32,000 full-time jobs.
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