Women and girls have been hit hardest by the global economic recession — more likely than males to die poor — according to a new joint report from the group Plan and the Overseas Development Institute, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that fight poverty in the developing world.
Disenfranchised women and girls have shouldered the burden of the downturn amid talk of austerity measures, food shortages, and a shrinking middle class, according to the study quoted by the Huffington Post
The NGOs' report “Off The Balance Sheet: The Impact Of The Economic Crisis On Girls And Young Women” noted although it is not surprising the most vulnerable groups suffer more in times of austerity, the effect on life expectancy was cause for concern.
“It is little surprise that the most vulnerable suffer more in times of austerity but to see the impact in higher mortality rates, reduced life expectancy, less opportunities, and greater risks for girls is stark,” Plan CEO Nigel Chapman said in the report.
“The world is failing girls and women,” Chapman said, arguing that they need more targeted social protection, job creation, and education.
Chapman told the Huffington Post the lack of equality and the gap in rights has taken a backseat over the past few years as governments concentrate on their nations' economic failures.
“There’s a slight sense that the world moves on. The crisis has become macro,” he said. “If you’re in a country where the economy is shrinking, that’s really serious, and the government is focused on the big picture.”
Three areas of the study’s focus include the situation for women in Nicaragua, who have had to reduce their food intake; girls in Cambodia who are forced to drop out of school and become domestic workers; and the striking disparity in the unemployment rate for young women in Greece compared to their male counterparts.
The report urges countries to tackle gender equality by offering specific solutions, including promoting local sustainable food production and incentivizing families to keep girls in school.
“We are simply driving girls out of school too young,” Chapman told the Huffington Post. “Education is a catalyst because it gives you earning power you wouldn’t otherwise have.”
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