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The economic independence of women can be viewed as the expansion of their capacity to make choices for themselves. However, economic independence is also key to ending the structural violence that keeps women powerless despite their achievements. The World Bank Gender Innovation LAB presents a set of interactive tools that can be used to calculate the value of unpaid work performed by women, and evaluate the impact of this valuation on their economic independence. Complete Real Freedom documentary explores the economic independence of women and its relation to gender equality. To what extent do discussions about achieving gender equality take into account the actual economic status of women? And what are the social and political consequences of this for society as a whole?
In the year 2014, women continue to be marginalized economically. In developing countries, approximately 70% of the total amount of unpaid work is done by women. But when it comes to the decision-making process, it is found that less than 30% of decisions are made by women. In addition, with the world economy on the move more women are expected to take up paid employment either in the formal or informal sector. Deployment of women in productive activities would provide an extra income for family maintenance and would result in a stable and diversified income stream. For this purpose, it is necessary to bring in a qualitative change in women’s role in production both as producers as well as consumers.
It is true in all societies, not just in developing countries that women play a vital role in economic activities. Approximately 60% of the population of developing countries depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Of these, up to 80% are women. Women produce up to 50% of many developing country’s agricultural products. In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce over 80% of the food crops, and in India, they farm one-third of arable land but control only 10% of access to productive resources. Economic empowerment begins with the right to make choices, for example, about whether or not to go to school, what kind of school to attend, and how much time to spend on each academic subject. It also includes the right to choose employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and sustainable livelihoods. The freedom to access markets at fair prices, own and inherit productive assets, enter credit arrangements that facilitate their businesses, and earn decent wages free from discrimination.
How much of that difference in pay is due to discrimination? It’s hard to know, but there are some indicators. Women have historically earned less than men even before they start working and when their work is equivalent. Researchers say that the wage gap almost fully accounts for all other factors that statistically explain wage differences by sex. Women don’t get ahead because that is the way the system is designed. This essay is intended to show what this looks like at a large company and inspire conversations within your own company about what it will take to create a more equal environment where everyone, regardless of their gender, feels respected equally.