January 20, 2020

Oxfam International finds that global wealth inequality is "founded in sexism"

Oxfam International finds that global wealth inequality is "founded in sexism"

According to Oxfam International’s latest report on global inequality, in 2019 there were 2,153 billionaires and together they possess the same amount of wealth as the poorest 4.6 billion people in the world. Whilst the non-profit highlighted the wealth gap, they also noted a big financial gap between genders. “Our economic system was built by rich and powerful men, who continue to make the rules and reap the lion’s share of the benefit. Worldwide men own 50% more wealth than women,” the report says. To put the statistics in perspective, it adds that the wealth of the richest 22 men in the world equals all of the wealth of the women in Africa.

This gender wealth imbalance is partially due to unpaid care work and domestic work that women are often more likely to undertake. IZA World of Labor author Solomon W. Polachek believes that effective policies, especially those that promote even greater lifetime work for women, can successfully reduce the gender wage gap. In his article he notes that: “Despite equal pay legislation dating back 50 years, American women still earn 18% less than their male counterparts. In the UK, with its Equal Pay Act of 1970, and France, which legislated in 1972, the gap is 17% and 10% respectively, and in Australia it remains around 14%.”

When it comes to statistics for the US, Oxfam International released an accompanying report, according to which women in the country spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men. Thus, in a year, women are working more than 95 extra eight-hour-days for no pay. “What is clear is that this unpaid work is fuelling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few,” the report states.

In an effort to address the economic imbalance between men and women, the Oxfam report proposes “the transformative ‘4Rs’ framework”, which includes:

  • Recognizing unpaid and poorly paid care work, which is primarily done by women
  • Reducing the amount of time spent on unpaid care via technology and supportive services
  • Redistributing unpaid care work within the household, and within society, to the government and private sector
  • Representing the most marginalized caregivers in the design and delivery of policies and services that will affect them
Read Solomon W. Polachek’s article Equal pay legislation and the gender wage gap.