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Girls & Women

Women Are Significantly More Likely Than Men to Live in Extreme Poverty: Report

Women are 4% more likely than men overall to live in extreme poverty around the world, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, and working age women are 22% more likely to do so, according to a sweeping new report released this week by the United Nations.

The UN’s analysts studied available data from 89 countries and their findings show how gender inequality affects all aspects of life, from housing to education to access to water and healthcare.

Take Action: Urge Leaders to Step Up for Women’s Rights and Health

For instance, women are more likely to be food insecure in two-thirds of countries; more than 303,000 women died from childbirth in 2015 because of lack of healthcare; 15 million girls, compared to 10 million boys, will never get a chance to learn to read or write in primary school; and women are 2.6 times more likely than men to do unpaid work than men.  

The problem of sexism becomes even more stark when income levels are broken down, according to the report.

For example, girls from low-income families in India are 22 times less likely than a girl from high-income families to attend school, and five times more likely to be married off before turning 18.

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These factors, in turn, make it far more likely for girls from low-income families to grow up and live in poverty.

The report is a sharp reminder that fighting extreme poverty around the world cannot be accomplished unless gender inequality is first addressed.

These conclusions are not exactly new, but the systematic nature of the report demonstrates how much work still has to be done around the world to achieve the 17 Global Goals, the UN’s roadmap for sustainable development through 2030.  

The report found that if governments take action to address gender inequality at an early age, then numerous Global Goals can be addressed simultaneously.

For example, funding universal early childhood education and care, would lead to more jobs later in life and more less child marriages, the report found.

“It is feasible,” Shahra Razavi, UN Women’s chief of research and data, told UN Dispatch in a statement. “It’s just a question of prioritizing and putting the political will behind the promises that member states made when they signed onto the agenda.”

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