Fight against poverty at risk by threats to women’s rights

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Women across the globe are facing new threats which risk dismantling decades of hard-won rights and derailing the effort to end extreme poverty, Oxfam warns today.

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Ahead of International Women’s Day next week, the international aid agency says that the renewal of the global gag rule restricting US funding for family planning services is the latest of a number of new threats that will have a huge effect on the world’s poorest women.

It comes as progress towards women’s equality risks going into reverse, something that will make it impossible for world leaders to end extreme poverty by 2030. At current rates, the time it will take to close the 23 percent global pay gap between men and women stands at 170 years – 52 years longer than it would have taken just a year ago.

And, over the past five years, donor funding directly to women’s rights organizations has more than halved. All of this risks putting women’s rights in reverse.

Head of Oxfam’s Even It Up campaign, Deepak Xavier, said: “Across the world, many of the basic human rights women have secured over the last few decades are at risk. Everyone has a part to play in ensuring this rollback on women’s rights does not happen. Recognizing that women and girls are equal to men and boys is crucial in the fight against poverty and inequality.”

Oxfam’s report launched today, ‘An economy that works for women’, outlines the importance of paid work as a vital route out of poverty for women. Yet gender inequality in the economy is now back to where it stood in 2008 and millions of women around the world continue to face low wages, a lack of decent, secure jobs and a heavy and unequal responsibility for unpaid care work, such as housework and childcare. Even in countries where the distribution is the most equal, it is estimated that women still carry out at least twice as much unpaid care work than men with an estimated global value of $10 trillion per year – more than the GDPs of India, Japan and Brazil combined.

Studies also show that inequality in economic terms costs women in developing countries $9 trillion a year; a sum that would not only benefit women but would unlock new spending power for their families and produce a boost to the economy as a whole.

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