Valuing Women Is Invaluable

By Serena Jiwani

March 9, 2017

This International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate gender equality. Globally, we’ve made great strides to ensure a more equal society – more girls are in school and are growing up with the same opportunities as boys, fewer girls are forced into marriage at a young age, and women are increasingly represented in leadership.

However, one priority for the United Nations this International Women’s Day is women’s economic empowerment.

Why is this important? 

Globally, women still receive fewer opportunities and less credit for their work across many key sectors, just like the incredible Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson who were so critical to NASA’s success decades ago. This is especially true in upper levels of management – less than 8% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs.

When women do get great leadership opportunities in business and politics, they receive less compensation. Women currently make 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same job as their counterparts.

recent piece in TIME Magazine discusses how these challenges not only play out in the workplace – they can also be found in the home through an invisible workload women face. Researchers estimate that around the world, women spend 4.5 hours doing work that is not paid. While that number is only 90 minutes in the United States, it still equals thousands of hours per year that women spend on household work.

When we undervalue women’s contributions to the economy – whether its work women do at the office or in the home – we are reinforcing inequality in our societies.

A recent report released by BNY Mellon and the UN Foundation found that greater equality for women across just five sectors, including child care, could lead to nearly $300 billion in economic growth by 2025.

Working towards women’s economic empowerment can help improve prosperity for all of us. 

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Photo credit: Robyn Russell/Universal Access Project

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