When women are poor, their rights are not protected. They face obstacles that may be extraordinarily difficult to overcome. This results in deprivation in their own lives and losses for the broader society and economy, as women’s productivity is well known as one of the greatest generators of economic dynamism.
While both men and women suffer in poverty, gender discrimination means that women have far fewer resources to cope. They are likely to be the last to eat, the ones least likely to access healthcare, and routinely trapped in time-consuming, unpaid domestic tasks. They have more limited options to work or build businesses. Adequate education may lie out of reach. Some end up forced into sexual exploitation as part of a basic struggle to survive.
And while women at large have not yet achieved an equal political voice, women in poverty face extra marginalisation. Their voices are rarely heard, for example, in decisions on managing an economy, or sharing benefits and costs.
To address such issues, UN Women runs programs to empower women economically and help lift them out of poverty. Investing in women’s economic empowerment leads to greater equality, poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.
UN Women is working to increase women’s incomes and secure their access to decent employment. We support economic empowerment through grassroots organisations that:
- Promote women’s entrepreneurship and business ownership, with access to loans, capital and financial markets;
- Build women’s assets , by providing women’s access to land rights and property ownership;
- Improve women’s financial literacy;
- Provide better jobs for women and improve their wages, working conditions and benefits.
Globally, over 2.7 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men.
The gender wage gap is estimated to be 23%, meaning women earn 77% of what men earn.
Women spend around 2.5 times more time on unpaid care and domestic work than men.
Only 58% of women worldwide have an account at a formal financial institution.