The problem: Women make up half of the world's population and yet represent a staggering 70% of the world's poor. For the millions of women living in poverty, their lives are a litany of injustice, discrimination and obstacles that get in the way of achieving their basic needs of good health, safe childbirth, education and employment. Overcoming these inequalities and ensuring that women benefit from development requires that the needs and desires of women are not only taken into account, but be put front and centre.
We live in a world in which women living in poverty face gross inequalities and injustice from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination that a woman may suffer during her entire life is unacceptable but all too common.
What does this look like throughout a woman's life?
As a baby born into poverty, she might be abandoned and left to die, through the practice of female infanticide. Worldwide, there are 32 million 'missing women'. During her childhood, her proper feeding and nutrition may be neglected out of family favouring of male children. As a girl or woman she may be a victim of female genital mutilation and cutting. 100 to 140 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation, including 6.5 million in Western countries. Embedded in cultural norms, this act is often carried out with the consent of mothers, in conditions that lead to lifelong pain, infection and premature death.
As an adolescent she may be required to have an early marriage and young pregnancy puts girls at risk of maternal deaths. The education of girls has been shown enhance maternal and child nutrition and lower mortality rates, inhibit the spread of fatal diseases like HIV/AIDS, and reduce birth rates. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, girls do not attend school because of reasons as simple as lack of decent sanitation facilities or the need to spend hours each day collecting water
At child-bearing age, she could die from haemorrhaging during childbirth, one of the most common causes of maternal mortality for anaemic or undernourished pregnant women. Of the 500,000 women who die in childbirth every year, 99% live in developing countries. In other words, in developing countries, a girl or a woman dies every minute in giving birth.
At working age, she does not have the same job opportunities and receives less pay for the same work. Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, but earn only 10% of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property. On average, women earn half of what men earn. Informal employment is a greater source of employment for women than for men. While it can offer life-changing opportunities to earn money, the low pay and lack of social protection makes women vulnerable and open to exploitation. Over her lifetime, she may suffer unimaginable violence and neglect, often in silence. Three million women die each year because of gender-based violence, and four million girls and women a year are sold into prostitution. One woman in five is a victim of rape or attempted rape during her lifetime. Gender-based violence takes more of a toll on women's health than that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.
As a woman living in poverty, she represents the majority of the world's poor. Women make up 70% of the world's one billion poorest people.
Video Credits DIRECTED BY Jonathan Olinger and Michael Trainer SERIES CREATIVE DIRECTOR Michael Trainer WRITERS Lindsay Branham, Jonathan Olinger NARRATED BY Whoopi Goldberg PRODUCED BY DTJ (www.dtj.org) PRODUCER Lindsay Branham EXECUTIVE PRODUCER/CO-DIRECTOR Michael Trainer CINEMATOGRAPHY Half the Sky Movement and Show of Force ORIGINAL SCORE Ryan O'Neal ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Adam Butterfield LEAD EDITOR Jonathan Olinger EDITORS Lindsay Branham, Austin Peck VISUAL EFFECTS Dan DiFelice MOTION GRAPHICS Dan Johnson
COLOR Matt Fezz SOUND DESIGN Ben Lukas Boysen SOUND MIX Charles de Montebello, CDM Studios, NYC ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE BY DTJ VOICE OVER RECORDING CDM Studios, NYC VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO Half the Sky Movement and Show of Force, Jane Rosenthal and Nancy Lefkowitz