Close the gap: the cost of inequality in women’s work

Eurodad’s member ActionAid has published a research paper titled Close the gap: the cost of inequality in women’s work. The briefing highlights the injustice suffered by working women in developing countries and shows how the global economic system relies on women's paid and unpaid work. 

Today, hundreds of millions of women will collect firewood and water for their families, cook and clean, take care of the elderly, the young and the sick; all the while scratching a living from the poorest paid and most precarious jobs. Women’s labour – in and outside the home – is vital to sustainable development, and for the wellbeing of society. Without the subsidy it provides, the world economy would not function. Yet it is undervalued and for the most part invisible.

To reveal the scale of the crisis, ActionAid has calculated the economic value of addressing gender inequality in work in developing countries. The findings show that women in developing countries could be US$9 trillion better off if their pay and access to paid work were equal to that of men. This huge price tag illustrates the magnitude of the injustice and represents a vast mine of untapped potential for poor women to improve their own lives, and those of their families. And these costs are not only to women’s finances; women’s economic inequality limits their life choices too – such as their sexual and reproductive health and rights – leaving them vulnerable to violence and other forms of discrimination and exploitation.

But gender inequality in work not only has consequences for women; it carries major costs for all, including businesses and the wider economy. In 2012 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that globally an additional US$1.6 trillion in output could be generated by reducing the gap in employment between women and men. Ensuring that women’s work, both in and outside the home, is valued and rewarded fairly is a key factor in fighting poverty and driving prosperity for all.

ActionAid calls on governments, international institutions and businesses to:

1. Guarantee women’s access to and enjoyment of decent work opportunities
2. Recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care responsibilities that fall disproportionately on women
3. Ensure that economic policies work for women, not against them, and end the pursuit of growth at any cost
4. Promote women’s voice, agency and leadership at all levels
5. Ensure women’s economic equality is high on the agenda of the new Sustainable Development Goals

Click here or on the download button below to read the full report.