While tomorrow is World Poverty Day, poverty is not an issue that should only be highlighted for one day. Christine Grumm has written an excellent piece in the Christian Science Monitor on the importance and necessity of investing in women globally to help alleviate poverty. This undoubtedly requires continued investment, devotion and perseverance by the international community.
Those familiar with the issue of poverty might know that although women perform two-thirds of the world’s unpaid labor and grow more than half the world’s food, they represent 70 percent of those living in poverty.
But what is just coming into focus is that women represent an underutilized resource in alleviating that poverty. When government and philanthropic dollars are invested in financially disadvantaged women, the potential impact is vast.
Research shows that investing in women’s education and leadership in Africa can increase agricultural yields by more than 20 percent there. It is estimated that for every year beyond fourth grade that girls attend school, their wages rise 21 percent. And in 2001 the United Nations reported that eliminating gender inequality in Latin America would increase national output by 5 percent.
On top of that, evidence from micro-credit lending indicates that women have superior repayment rates, invest more productively, and are more risk-averse than men in similar situations.
A hallmark of this work – and key to its effectiveness – is empowering women living in poverty to help direct funding, and to take leadership in the programs it makes possible.
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