Women in South Asian countries, including Bangladesh, earn 80% less than their male counterparts, an ActionAid study has found.
The study also revealed that inequalities of all kinds were on the rise. This was happening despite the fact that the moral, political and economic justifications for such inequalities — whether between women and men, between Dalit and Brahmin, or between black and white — were increasingly being challenged.
ActionAid, an international NGO working against poverty and injustice, published the findings yesterday in a report titled “The Price of Privilege: Extreme wealth, unaccountable power and the fight for equality in the 21st century.” The study was based on work experiences in 45 countries and information from around the world.
The study found that women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia earned 80% less than men.
Also, women from 32 countries contributed as much as $3 trillion in labour value to global healthcare in 2010, nearly half of it unpaid, the report stated.
The report recommended that women’s unpaid care burden should be redistributed and reduced. This issue was especially important for Bangladesh where ActionAid said women spend six hours to do unpaid care work each day compared to only 1 hour spent by a man.
The richest 1% of the global population now controlled over half of the global wealth, while the poorer half of the world controlled less than 1% of wealth, the report read.
The combined wealth of the 200 richest people in the world – $3.18 trillion – is greater than the total wealth of Africa – $2.83 trillion – and nearly equivalent to the total wealth of Brazil – $3.194 trillion.
According to the report, the richest 64 individuals control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people combined.
“When so many of the world’s resources are controlled by so few, we cannot talk about poverty and inequality without also talking about extreme wealth, consumption patterns and elite capture of power,” said Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh.
All governments have now promised to act on inequality but almost all were failing to walk the talk. The power of money was ripping societies apart, she added.
Countries like Bangladesh should focus on creating more and better jobs and ensuring that the rich paid their fair share as a way to pay for social protections for the poor and vulnerable communities, said Farah Kabir.
The ActionAid report also identified a range of policy solutions that would decrease inequality by redistributing power and wealth in societies, including innovative solutions such as a maximum wage and better recognition and compensation for women’s unpaid care work.
The report further addressed the range of inequalities and the interconnections between them – especially how inequalities of gender and ethnicity intersected with inequalities of wealth.