By Dr Helen Szoke, Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive
In a village near Faizabad in India, 32-year-old mother of three, Manju Tiwari, works hard as a farmer, growing a wide variety of produce, including sugar cane, rice, wheat and potatoes.
“Women do the majority of the work. We do domestic work and we also work in the field. We do everything but our work is not recognised,” she says.
This is an issue right across the world, in rich and poor countries alike.
For all the progress we’ve made in areas such as access to education, the under-valued work of women is still pervasive – along with great disparity in employment, wages and political participation – and a hindrance to truly inclusive economic growth that benefits everyone.
Oxfam’s report out today, The G20 and gender equality – How the G20 can advance women’s rights in employment, social protection and fiscal policies, shows just how big an issue this is.
It includes the startling fact that on the current rate of global progress, it will take 75 years for women to be paid the same as men for equal work.
In other words, women will not achieve equal pay in most of our lifetimes.
Across G20 countries and beyond, women are paid less than men, do most of the unpaid labour, are over-represented in part-time work and discriminated against in the household, markets and institutions.
These are not just ‘women’s issues’ alone – they are systemic issues that determine the wellbeing of everyone.
Depending on the country context, an extra 20 – 60 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be added if the hidden contribution of unpaid work was valued.
For an organisation such as Oxfam, which works to improve the lives of people in poverty, the gap between women and men represents a major risk to sustainable development, and is the biggest obstacle to eradicating poverty.
Seventy per cent of the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty worldwide are women and girls; while women perform two-thirds of the world’s work and produce half the world’s food, they earn only ten per cent of the world’s income.
Economic growth is central to the agenda of the G20 this year, which Australia is hosting in Brisbane. But inequality is not. The extreme and growing gap between the rich and the poor, as well as gender inequality, must be front and centre in Brisbane.