According to the World Bank, gender equality in the workplace could increase global GDP by over 20%, and yet women still lack the resources, rights, and protection to realize this potential. This International Women’s Day theme is “Count Her In,” encouraging investment in women, progress, and our shared economy. 

The Status of Gender Equality in the Economy

In December, the World Bank released a new report on the global gender gap for women in the workplace,and their findings are even worse than previously thought. The study aimed to take a more comprehensive approach toward women’s participation in the economy, so for the first time it included two critical factors: women’s safety from violence, and women’s access to childcare services. When those factors are included, some important gender gaps are revealed:

  • Women have fewer rights overall. Globally, women have just 64% of the legal protections that men do. There are fewer laws providing women equal pay, parental rights, protection from harassment, domestic violence, child marriage, femicide, and more. 
  • Women require access to child care. Globally, women spend an average of 2.4 more unpaid hours a day than men on child care and other domestic tasks. Only about 40% of the countries in the world provide some financial or tax support for child care, and only about 31% have laws regulating standards in child care. Without quality child care, and the means to pay for it, many women are unable to participate in the workforce. 
  • Women face financial insecurity in old age. The gender pay gap remains steady at about 77% globally, and about 70% of countries have different retirement ages for men and women. Female entrepreneurs face significant challenges in financing and procurement processes, excluding their businesses from growth opportunities. Because women take time off work for child care, earn less, and retire earlier, they have less opportunities to earn retirement income or savings, and face increasing poverty as they live longer. 

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this report is that, although more countries are passing laws that protect women’s rights, these laws cannot be effective without the supporting frameworks of enforcement, tracking, and measurement. For example, 98 countries have passed gender pay equality laws, but only 35 (about 18% globally) have implemented pay transparency measures or enforcement mechanisms to ensure these laws are effective. 

Count Her In

This year, the UN theme for International Women’s Day is Count Her In: Invest In Women. It seeks to explore and create new economic opportunities for women and girls. Women require equal access to education, employment, and financial services in order to achieve economic equality. This year’s theme has two major areas of focus:

  1. Financial literacy for women. Financial literacy is a crucial skill for women. Greater understanding of budgeting, borrowing, saving, spending, and use of financial tools like loans, insurance, and money transfers gives women greater control over their financial futures. Financial literacy supports women in the workplace seeking to reduce gender disparity, female entrepreneurs seeking to build a business, and women outside of formal employment as they care for themselves and their families. The UN has a variety of programs and initiatives to support financial literacy for women. 
  2. Gender-responsive budgeting. The UN’s call for gender-responsive budgeting is addressed to governments and global economies to create more inclusive budgets and fiscal policies. Governments must allocate resources for gender-based violence research and prevention, systems and frameworks to eliminate gender discrimination in the workplace, address gender disparities in healthcare, and more. Gender-responsive budgets support an equal distribution of resources, but must also include monitoring and reliable data gathering to inform future adjustments. 

Globally, the value of women’s unpaid domestic and care work is estimated at over $10 trillion: three times the size of the technology industry. Including women’s labor in the global economy, in a way that is fair and equitable, has the power to grow the world’s economy while reducing poverty, improving human rights, and promoting a more environmentally healthy, sustainable society. Women’s rights are human rights, and impact us all. 

This year, Grapefrute continues to support women in the workplace and the economy, helping to promote a more fair and sustainable world for us all. Join us on this International Women’s Day and take a stand to support women everywhere.