by Tristyne Brindle
“Women make up half of the world's population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world's poor...”
- Global Poverty Info Bank (2013)
How could this be? Sadly, it starts from birth. When families favor males, young girls are sometimes left to die, be malnourished, or suffer from untreated medical conditions.
In many cultures, genital mutilation is done with maternal consent, leading to a life full of pain, infection, and in many cases, death. If they make it to working years, they are often underpaid and overworked.
In fact, according to the Global Poverty Info Bank, on average, women make half of what men make (2013). Many women are encouraged to stay home and do work around the house. In this case, women don’t have the same opportunity for education.
When gender inequality takes a toll on women, some will turn to prostitution or other informal work for pay, which makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation, violence, rape, murder, or sex slavery (GPIB, 2013).
Empowering women can lead to more gender equality in the world. Empowering women can also help encourage economic growth nationwide in countries with extreme gender inequalities because working women contribute more to the economy (Kerbo, 2006).
SO WHAT DOES EMPOWERING WOMEN MEAN?
There are many ways to empower women. Here are some of large scale types:
Empowering women means advocating against early child marriage.
Prevention of early child marriage leads to less health complications and less child birthing related deaths
Discouraging early marriage will lead to a lower national population, which means more food and money to go around
If children wait to get married, more women will get educated, giving them more career options. If a woman can get a good job, she won’t need to marry into a new family.
In most cases, women who don’t get married as children have a higher life satisfaction.
(Child Brides: Stole Lives, 2007)
Empowering women means encouraging and promoting education.
With education, women are more likely to get good, steady jobs, so they will pay back their loans (Kerbo, 2006).
With education, women are more likely to use birth control, keeping the population in control as well, which also benefits the national economics (Kerbo, 2006).
According to World Bank, "an extra year of secondary schooling for girls can increase their future wages by 10 to 20%" (World Bank, 2011).
What else can you do to empower women close to you?
Promote women’s political rights and participation
Teach girls to empower each other from a young age
Believe in them and help them find necessary resources to move forward
Get involved with an organization or just spread the word!
Many people still don’t realize that gender inequality exists. Likewise, many women don’t realize their lives (or their children’s lives) could be better with a few changes.