Every day, millions of women in developing countries work hard to care for themselves and their families. You might find them cooking hours over a smoky fire, taking care of their young children, laboring long hours in a factory or harvesting vegetables in the field. Without the contributions of these women, economies would collapse.
Yet, women face great inequality when it comes to working. Some are paid less than men. Others are legally prohibited from working. And many find that their work is not compensated at all. The World Economic Forum predicts that global gender equality won’t be achieved until 2133, about 115 years from now. Until then, women continue to face substantial obstacles to receiving appropriate and fair recognition of their hard work.
In honor of International Women’s Day, here are six vital facts you need to know about women working around the world.
1. Women bear the responsibility for unpaid work at home.
This includes taking care of children or the elderly at home as well as doing housework. In fact, according to the World Bank, women spend between 2 to 10 more hours a day than men caring for children, the elderly or the sick.
2. In much of the developing world, women make up the majority of workers in the informal sector.
Domestic workers, street vendors or seasonal laborers – these are some of the typical jobs of the informal sector, unprotected by the government with wages paid under-the-table, if at all. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, women account for 89% of informal employment, according to UN Women. Without social protections, many of these women continue to live in a cycle of poverty and can be subject to harassment by their employers.
3. Women fair no better in the agricultural sector.
According to the FAO, women comprise 43% of the global agricultural labor force and are key to ensuring that communities and families are nourished with healthy produce. Yet, only 20% of women own the land they work on. When women gain equal land ownership rights, they also gain economic independence and contribute more income to the household.
4. In some parts of the world, women may face legal restrictions to working.
The World Bank found that in 100 countries, laws still exist that restrict the type of work women can do. In some countries, for example, women must get permission from their husbands before pursuing a new job.
5. Globally, women are paid less than men.
According to the World Bank, women earn on average about 60% to 75% of men’s wages. If the pay gap between men and women were to close, the world’s GDP could grow by $12 trillion by 2025.
6. Women comprise 40% of the global workforce yet they are 20% less likely to access financial services, like small loans or a savings account.
Without basic financial services, women can’t access the funds they need to start or expand their own businesses or save their profits securely for future expenses.
That is why for over 30 years, FINCA maintains a strong focus on making our financial products and services accessible and relevant to women. Since 1985, over 4 million low-income women have improved their lives with the help of FINCA’s financial services. Our female clients are able to access small loans that enable them to expand their small businesses, increase their income and save for the future. When women are empowered to work and create their own businesses, families improve their quality of life.