‘Time to end women’s poverty while advancing gender equality’

This is the message from businesswoman Angela de Souza who bluntly explains how the Western World is largely ignoring the terrible plight suffered by females across the globe

Time to end women’s poverty while advancing gender equality

The world is at a crucial crossroads for gender equality. Globally 10.3% of women exist in extreme poverty. And they are significantly poorer than men. Progress towards removing this poverty trap needs to be 26 times faster to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – as outlined by the United Nations (UN) – by 2030.

But to accelerate progress requires investment. Data from 48 developing economies show that an additional $360 billion is needed each year to achieve gender equality. This is the total investment required to help bring poverty and hunger to an end, and empower all disadvantaged women across the globe.

Over 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments prioritise education and family planning. These administrations would also have to level playing fields when it comes to providing fair and equal wages, while expanding social benefits.

At the forefront of the global push for gender equality, and women’s empowerment, is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). This intergovernmental body is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged women. And the CSW plays a pivotal role in shaping policies and initiatives that advance women’s rights worldwide. 

Every year, at the UN’s headquarters in New York City, they host an annual session known as CSW68. To read about CSW68 please click here. This gathering is attended by representatives from member states, along with UN agencies and civil society organisations. They engage in critical dialogue and debate strategies that will help solve many of the issues facing some of the world’s poorest women and girls. But progress remains slow.

As the founder and chief executive of the Women’s Business Club, I had the honour of attending this year’s CSW68. I was delighted to be there but I also found it truly disheartening to learn about the scale of the depravity and inhumane treatment being inflicted on millions of females around the world.

In the 21st century there remains a scandalous level of sexual abuse, forced labour and female genital mutilation taking place. Child marriages continue to happen at an alarming rate and there is a disturbing lack of access to education for girls in numerous countries. These challenges persist despite decades of advocacy and awareness-raising efforts. 

What strikes’ me the most is the stark differences between the relative comfort and security experienced by many in developed countries – such as the UK – and the harsh realities faced by millions of women and girls in less fortunate parts of the world. In light of this information, I can’t help but question the priorities of governments in the Western World, and their obvious lack of effort regarding this crucially important topic. 

While it’s essential to champion rights and equality within our own borders, I believe there’s a pressing requirement to redirect much of our focus towards addressing the urgent needs of women and girls in developing countries. Instead of solely campaigning for what could be perceived as ‘comfort’ rights here at home, we must become involved in the struggles which our global sisters face during their day-to-day existence.

It is contemptible that we largely ignore their daily battles for survival and dignity. I left the conference with a deep understanding of the profound inequalities that persist in our world today. And we all have a moral imperative to extend a helping hand to those in need. Let’s not allow ourselves to become complacent in our relative comfort, but rather use our privilege and resources to uplift, advance and empower women and girls everywhere.

Yet another universal problem with these annual gatherings is that they are often held in ridiculously expensive cities in the global north. This, in itself, prevents many grass-root organisations in the global south from attending.

We, at the Women’s Business Club, stand as a beacon of hope and solidarity for women and girls around the globe. With unwavering dedication, we pledge to continue our mission to empower and support those facing adversity. 

We are working tirelessly to break down barriers, champion equality, and create a world where every woman and girl can thrive. Join us in our journey to make a meaningful difference to the lives of women and girls around the globe.

Angela De Souza
Angela De Souza

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