Economic Inequality is Out of Control, Oxfam report finds
A recent report from Oxfam has found that the divide between the world’s richest and poorest is disproportionately effecting women and girls. The report highlights the significant difference between the wealthiest and the poorest of the world, stating that economic inequality is ‘out of control’.
Time to Care
Oxfam’s Time To Care report has found the world’s billionaires, of which there are 2,153, are richer than 4.6 billion people worldwide, with the richest 22 men holding more wealth than all the women in Africa. These inequalities are born out of a flawed, sexist economic system. Worldwide, care responsibilities tend to fall upon women, with women and girls contributing around 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care & domestic work each day, the monetary value of which is estimated at $10.8 trillion – three times the size of the world’s tech industry. This extreme imbalance is also visible in more developed countries. From 2011 to 2017, dividends to wealthy shareholders increased 31% while average wages in G7 countries (economically advanced) increased by only 3%.
Effects on women and girls
The economic imbalance severely effects the rates of poverty in developing countries where women are (even more so than in developed countries) expected to take on most or all care and domestic responsibilities. This work is drastically undervalued, even though it is crucial to societies and the economy – if no one invested time into caring for children, the elderly, and those with physical and mental illnesses and disabilities, as well as cooking, cleaning, washing, and fetching water and firewood, communities and economies would stop functioning. Girls who undertake unpaid care work have a much lower rates of school attendance and are therefore less likely to secure work when older.
On top of the unpaid work women take on at home, many also take up low-paid domestic work caring for others, and often don’t have equal protection in labour laws.
Within the report, Oxfam suggest the following 6 action points to start closing the gap between the world’s richest and poorest, and create a more equal economy for women:
- Invest in national care systems to address the disproportionate responsibility for care work done by women and girls.
- End extreme wealth to end extreme poverty.
- Legislate to protect the rights of all carers and secure living wages for paid care workers.
- Ensure that carers have influence on decision-making processes.
- Challenge harmful norms and sexist beliefs.
- Value care work in business policies and practices.
Oxfam presented the report at the World Economic Forum in Davos 21st – 24th January 2020.