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The return-on-investment of women is priceless

Flickr: Tax Credits

One of the biggest fights in the movement for gender equality is closing the wage gap between men and women. But here are a couple more facts according to the World Bank, that are less well known but even scarier than a difference in pay.

1. There are still 15 countries in the world where a woman must receive consent from her husband if she wishes to get a job.

2. Even more countries have gender-biased laws that prohibit women from pursuing work or opening a bank account.

However, research shows that investing in women and incorporating them into the market is better for a country’s overall economy. So why do certain countries and employers still insist that women’s work holds less value than men’s? Your guess is as good as mine. Seems like the only answer here can be prejudice since I see no reason why women are less qualified than men to hold a job at all.

But if you (or someone you may know) need more reason than a human rights movement to get behind gender equality in the workplace, then how about this: according to the World Bank, it is also “smart economics” because it enhances efficiency and leads to a stronger GDP.

Let’s break it down to the simplest idea. When the husband is the only person working in a household, the family has less money to work with and spend than if the wife has an income as well. Double the work means double the income and twice as much financial security for the family, which means twice as much available to spend and put back into the economy.

Seems like reason enough to me to get the women off the bench and start bringing home the bacon.

So now that I’ve convinced you, what are some ways we can get women into the labor market?

Well for starters, don’t stand in their way. Don’t be the husband that doesn’t let his wife work or the employer that only gives men a chance.

Another method is micro-financing. Micro-finance loans is a tactic that has proven to empower women and open more doors for them to work. It’s a practice where small amounts of money are loaned to people in poverty to start their own business. The intention is for that money to be paid back once the person earns it.

Micro-finance investments in women living in poverty give them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. They have their own source of income that they can manage, and just like that a household can change. There is more money to spend on food, housing, education, etc. which provides for a healthier, safer, and brighter future for a family that might have otherwise struggled.

There are a lot of organizations that work with micro-financing but if you want an easy way to check it out and maybe get involved yourself, check out Kiva! You can read bios of entrepreneurs around the world and start investing small amounts towards their future.

There’s a lot of policy that needs to open up credit opportunities for women in banks. There are laws that must be changed so that women have control of their own finances and their own future. And there are companies that need to analyze whether there is gender prejudice in their salaries and hiring practices.

But there is also a lot of progress that has been made by micro-financing and a lot of research that leads us to the resounding fact that is this: women are worth investing in. It is better for everyone if an economy is inclusive to women.