It’s no secret those who live in poverty, and especially those who are born into poverty, live at a disadvantage. It’s also true that there is nowhere on earth where women have as many opportunities as men.
This means that women and girls living in extreme poverty are among the most disproportionately disadvantaged people in the world. Often their status in society doesn’t even give them a voice to protest, to improve their situations. Even poverty is sexist.
Poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand; it’s well-known that investing in empowering women and girls results in improving economies and lifts everyone out of poverty more quickly. Yet, half a billion women cannot read, 62 million girls are denied education, and 155 countries still have laws that hold women back—laws that apply to women only, not men.
What’s the answer? Getting world leaders to support programs and policies that invest in women and girls:
Health and Nutrition benefit a woman and her children. The death of a mother in childbirth, the lack of good nutrition, regular vaccinations and other gaps perpetuate generations living in extreme poverty; well-nourished mothers give birth to healthy children, who in turn have a better chance of achieving their full potential in life.
Economic Opportunity will improve the lives of women and their families, which improvement will expand to communities and beyond. Access and policies that allow women to participate in financial matters will bring us closer to equality. When women have control over household finances, their children are likely to be better nourished.
Education and Connectivity allow women and girls to learn and advance in job opportunities. Where rural areas might make school attendance difficult, access to the internet and technology opens a new world of educational opportunities. Increases in women’s education have have been linked to reductions in hunger.
The ONE Campaign has provided a letter to world leaders, urging them to embrace policies investing in girls and women. Among those who have signed the letter are Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Shonda Rhimes, Bono, Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Sheryl Sandberg. You can add your name to the list!
Empowering women with the ability and choices to improve their lives is what will ultimately break cycles of poverty once and for all.
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You can read the entire report, including the 20 Toughest Places to be Born a Girl.
All photos courtesy ONE campaign’s Poverty Is Sexist campaign