Although our society has made positive steps towards reducing discriminations and inequalities, a considerable proportion of people around the world are still living under discrimination and inequalities. Usually, such inequalities are often based along gender, racial, ethnicity, religious and among other discriminatory lines.
The United Nations and civil right groups, among other positive parties have been active in fighting for the reduction of global inequalities. Many programs that have been precisely designed to mitigate global inequalities have thus been started in many countries.
Among the forms of discrimination that have been of concern to human rights groups is gender discrimination. We are now becoming aware that some forms of global inequalities are gender based. As such, understanding the link between gender and global inequalities is fruitful in mitigating global inequalities.
Females and Poverty
Has global poverty been taking a global dimension? Although there is no sufficient data to support this particular assertion, we can still observe that compared to men, more women have been sinking into poverty (Dhongde 2007). According to a 2005 United Nations report on gender inequalities, about 50% of women in developing countries have become poorer in the last thirty years (Deaton 2011).
On the other hand, about 30% of men in developing countries became poorer in the last thirty years (Deaton 2011). Here, the trend has especially been bad in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. A total of about 140 million women became poorer in Africa (during the period mentioned), while about 500 million became poorer in Asia (Dhongde 2007).
Thus, we can see a worrying trend where poverty is increasingly taking a gender dimension in the developing world. Due to the presence of multiple programs in the developed world that have helped to empower women there, the number of poor women has not been increasing there as fast as in the developing world.
However, the overall proportion of women that live in poverty is still high. Since global inequalities are measured on the threshold of poverty and on empowerment capacities, we can observe that global inequalities are (at least to some extent) based on a gender.
One of the factors that have helped to drive gender inequalities is the existing family model. Often, when compared to men, women have a more economical and social burden in raising families (Chen 1994). For example, although the number of single parents has been increasing, it is often the women who usually continue to feed, educate, and raise their children.
Without help from their former male couples, women are thus taking an economical burden here; hence, increasing the number of poor women around the globe (Kapan 2009). On the other hand, on separating with their wives, many men do not bother to finance the needs of the children that they leave behind.
Although many developed countries have designed laws that have been tailored to protect children and their mothers from such situations by compelling fathers to financially contribute towards the needs of their children, the challenge has not been completely overcome yet.
Moreover, due to limited financial resources, many women (even in the developed world) are finding it difficult to seek legal redress in such matters of parenting. Since women are increasingly and unfairly given the burden of meeting the financial costs of the society, many of them have thus been sinking into poverty (Deaton 2011).
Another factor that has been exacerbating poverty levels among females is gender stereotypes on education. Unlike the western culture, multiple cultures across the globe have been against the education of females. Even in developed countries, the prevailing environment had been against the education of females.
Such an environment has an origin from previous cultures, which had regarded the education of females as unnecessary since women were expected to stay in their homes and do domestic work. Many developed countries had to develop affirmative action, among other programs that were tailored to help the girl child excel in academics (Kapan 2009).
Gender disparities in education are especially prominent in developing countries. Most countries in the developing world are still associating with cultural beliefs that regard a female as a person that should solely prepare for marriage, stay in her home and help in domestic work (Chen 1994).
Even in exceptional situations (in developing countries) where some level of liberalization has been observed, and the female has thus been allowed to pursue education, multiple factors have still hindered the academic excellence of the girl child (Kapan 2009). For example, when not in school, many girls here are still expected to do domestic chores at their home; thus, limiting the number of hours that they can spend on their studies.
Moreover, there is also a gender stereotype that girls cannot excel in academics as their female counterparts; hence, deteriorating the confidence of girls and thus limiting their capacity to excel in academics. The usefulness of education in economically empowering a populace is known.
For example, people that have university level education earn an average of about 30,000$ more (per annum) when compared with those that do not have university education (Deaton 2011).
The same case is true in the developing world where people with university and college certificates are more economically empowered than the uneducated. With a disadvantage in education empowerment (when compared to males), females are thus disadvantaged in economic empowerment; hence, a global inequality that is gendered.
Employment and Economic Dependence
Compared to males, many women undergo discrimination when seeking for employment. Again, such a direction is especially prominent in the developing world. Often, crooked employers will seek to sexually exploit females that seek employment opportunities at their firms; hence, limiting the capacity of women to seek for employment on an equal basis as their male counterparts.
Exacerbating the problem even further is a common stereotype that females cannot especially perform well in certain kinds of jobs; hence, limiting the capacity of females to acquire certain types of employment (Chen, 1994).
Moreover since many women in the developing world depend on their husbands (and, or males with an income) to meet their economic needs, many women have found it hard to venture into economic generating activities. Women in Sub-Saharan Africa have also been limited in economic empowerment due to the HIV/AIDS disaster (Pritchett 2006).
Here, the number of women that have been infected by the HIV virus is twice the number of men that have been infected (Pritchett 2006). Due to their deteriorating health, women that have been infected with the HIV virus have thus become less able to participate in income generating activities.
With a decreased capacity for women to obtain employment and other income generating capacities, the capacity of women to economically empower themselves is thus limited; hence, a global inequality that is gendered.
The political leadership of most (if not all) countries is male dominated. Due to multiple factors (including those that we have seen above), it has been difficult for females to rival their male counterparts in acquiring political leadership. With a poor representation at the government levels (where important decisions on policies are made), it is not very difficult for the wellbeing of women to be compromised.
Knowingly or unknowingly, it is possible for a male dominated leadership to align with policies that silently discriminate on the empowerment of women (Pritchett 2006). Thus, with poor representation in leadership at government levels, the capacity of women for self determination has been limited; hence, creating a loophole that can be used for gender discrimination (Dhongde 2007).
The issue of global inequalities is one that is becoming a concern for any person that believes in equality and human rights. With progressive steps having been made towards mitigating global inequalities, several challenges remain. As it has been seen, the challenge of tackling global inequalities has persistently been differentiated into the developed world and the developing world.
Thus, gender discrimination is common within countries that are still developing. Still, developed countries have a number of steps to climb before they can completely eliminate the challenge of gender discrimination within their countries.
Generally, females are disadvantaged in multiple areas that relate to their economic empowerment. Hence, when compared to their male counterparts, higher poverty levels can usually be observed among females. Therefore, to the extent of dis-empowering women in the areas that I have discussed, global inequality is gendered.
Chen, S., 1994, “Is poverty increasing in the developing world?” Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 40 no. 4, pp. 359–76.
Deaton, A., 2011, “Counting the world’s poor: Problems and possible solutions,” World Bank Research Observer, Vol. 16 no. 2, pp. 125–147.
Dhongde, S., 2007, “Measuring the impact of growth and income distribution on poverty the developing world,” Journal of Income Distribution, Vol. 16 no. 2, pp. 25–48
Kapan, T., 2009, Patriarchal households are unitary: New evidence, Columbia University Press
Pritchett, L., 2006, “Who is not poor? Dreaming of a world truly free of poverty,” World Bank Research Observer, Vol. 21 no.1, pp. 1–23.