POVERTY HAS A WOMAN’S FACE

Kayaye

It is estimated that women represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor, a figure that indicates that women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty. Census figures from 2000 indicated that in Canada women had a poverty rate almost 20 per cent higher than men, earned on average 80% of their salary and experienced higher levels of unemployment.

Statistics consistently show that women are more likely than men to be poor and at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets. The implications of poverty for women are wide ranging and millions of women are frequently left without even basic rights such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care and decent employment.

Being poor also means that women have very little protection from violence and that they have no role in decision-making. Throughout the developing world, rural women engage in multiple economic activities that are critical to the survival of poor households. Rural poor women play an essential role in crop production and livestock care and they provide the food, water and fuel their families need. This is particularly the case in some of the poorest and most marginal areas, which are characterised by extensive and increasing male migration. In these areas, agriculture has become increasingly feminised. In 1997, in fact, almost 70 per cent of women of working age in low-income, food-deficit countries were engaged in agricultural work. At the same time, the proportion of woman-headed households continues to grow, reaching almost one third in some developing countries.

Despite the essential economic and caregiving roles that they perform, women have significantly less access to financial, physical and social assets than men do; fewer opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills; and less voice in public decision-making.

Women own less than 2 per cent of all land, and receive only 5 per cent of extension services worldwide. It is estimated that women in Africa receive less than 10 per cent of all credit going to small farmers and a mere 1 per cent of the total credit going to the agricultural sector. The most extreme manifestation of gender inequality and the disregard of women’s human rights is the fact that at least 60 million girls are ‘missing’, mostly in Asia, due to female infanticide or sex-selective abortions. Added to these are an estimated 5,000 women murdered each year in ‘honour killings’.

According to the World Food Programme, 870 million people do not have enough food to eat, of which 98% live in developing countries. Of these, more than 60% of are women. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the UN, observed that poverty has a woman’s face. This was further buttressed by a woman who was asked by IBIS Ghana about what she understood by poverty. The only answer she could give was “Poverty means woman; the face of poverty is woman.”

Only 30% of major companies in the EU are chaired by women and a Forbes publication about the most powerful ten people in the world only included one woman. Five of the 50 richest people in the world are women.

In Ghana, there are no women in the list of richest people and out of 275 legislators, fewer than 30% of them are women. Poverty has a woman’s face, in Ghana and across the globe.

 

Happy International Women’s Day!

Being a woman is not easy, International Womens Day Ghana

It’s true… but what happens if you phone the number?

by Zoe

Happy International Women’s Day from Ghana.

We’ve met a lot of amazing women since we’ve been in Ghana, and we’ve been privileged to be working with RAINS, an organisation that strives to make improvements in the lives of the inhabitants of Northern Ghana, particularly for women and girls.

But the fact remains that here in the Northern Region, only 25% of women are literate, and 60% of women have never attended school at all (2010 population and housing census, Ghana Statistical Service) – that’s a long way off achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.

In addition, women in the Northern Region of Ghana work longer hours than men, and earn significantly less than men.

International Women’s Day is a reminder of what a privilege it is to have grown up in a country where education is often taken for granted. Check out the USAID infographic in our previous post, to see just how important girl child education really is.

Why educate a girl?

The Comic Relief-funded project that we’re doing an impact assessment on here at RAINS has a huge emphasis on girl child education.

In Northern Ghana, where we live, poverty excludes many girls from education. There are a lot of organisations like RAINS and Camfed that focus on increasing school attendance by girls, and here’s an amazing infographic from US AID which shows why they bother:

US Aid Education Women girls Infographic statistics