Across the world, women are regularly excluded from business and work. Even in countries where this does not occur, women will likely still face discrimination in their workplaces. Women are often paid significantly less than men (the wage gap), not afforded opportunities to move up the “corporate ladder” (the glass ceiling), and are even treated as less valuable simply because of their gender. Many countries do not afford more than a few weeks of maternity leave, if any and in those where women receive adequate leave, employers consider them to be more of a burden than their male counterparts.
The reasons for this are numerous and include a wide variety of cultural, religious, and traditional beliefs. Whatever the reason, it is clear that when women are not allowed to partake in business activities, they are denied the opportunity to improve their income and the lives of their families, their right to work is neglected, and they are deprived of the chance to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.
The United Nations Office on Human Rights states that:
- Women make up 70% of all people living in poverty
- On average women globally make only 60-75% of a man’s salary
- Women are often forced to work under harsh and discriminatory circumstances than men
- In many countries, women are the main producers of agriculture, yet men reap the greatest economic benefits from the work of the women
- Women’s unequal position in economics makes them more vulnerable to violence, discrimination, trafficking, and exploitation
What is even more, women are often an asset to the workplace and the economy. Many studies have shown that when women are allowed the opportunity to work or run their own businesses, they handle capital better, generate higher income, and lead to greater employment opportunities for others. Women are indispensable in the workplace and everyone suffers when they are not granted economic equality.
Kiva is an international non-profit whose mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.” Kiva donors are able to lend as little as $25 to help a borrower start or grow their own business, attend school, gain access to clean energy, and to realize their potential. With Kiva, 100% of every dollar lent goes to funding loans and they allow you to choose which projects you fund. After you make your loan, the borrower uses that money and later pays it back, so you can continue lending to other projects. You can see and support their work at www.kiva.org