Global study: Women, girls hit hardest by economic recession

Begging woman in Bangalore, India.

Women and girls have been hit hardest by economic recession worldwide. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/gregor_y/Flickr)

A recently released study by international children’s development organization Plan and the anti-poverty Overseas Development Institute indicates that woman and girls have withstood the most during the global economic recession. According to international research, women and girls are most likely to be poor, drop out of school and die early.

Women and girls are ‘Off the Balance Sheet’

The title of the newly released joint economic study, “Off The Balance Sheet: The Impact Of The Economic Crisis On Girls And Young Women” gives some indication of just how deeply women and young girls have fallen into the cracks when it comes to austerity measures and the challenged global marketplace. Gender inequality and economic trends are particularly damaging to these groups, notes the study.

But what is perhaps most alarming are the data on life expectancy.

“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 and boys is stark,” noted report author Nigel Chapman, Plan Chief Executive Officer. “The world is failing girls and women.”

Chapman notes that women and girls worldwide need more social protections, job creation and education.

Dramatic examples of feminine austerity measures

Examples abound in the study of ways in which women and girls cut back to help keep their families alive. In Nicaragua, women reduce food intake dramatically in disadvantaged areas. Cambodian girls on similar socioeconomic levels drop out of school and become domestic workers. Among young Greek women, the unemployment rate was a massive 67 percent, compared with 44 percent for men in 2011.

Food sacrifices in favor of male family members were most typically made by study respondents, as the men were more likely to have jobs during the economic recession, and need the energy to perform laborious work.

Setbacks to UN Millennium goals

According to BBC News, the sobering numbers uncovered in this study indicate that UN Millennium Development Goals for improving maternal health are farther away than previously expected.

“The improvements made during the last five years are very fragile,” Chapman told the BBC. “It is shocking, because I don’t think anyone’s really noticing it… In some cases, (young girls are) sent out to work to earn money through sex work, through prostitution, which is of course is very, very worrying.”

Report calls for action

In order to combat these most disturbing trends of the global economic recession, the report calls on countries to address issues of gender equality head on. Specific solutions such as promoting local sustainable food production, subsidized child care and giving families incentives to keep kids in school are proposed. Working in tandem with female support organizations that fight female sex trafficking and promote education like UNICEF is the best available way to turn around a serious global problem that economic recession has served to exacerbate.


BBC News

Huffington Post

Plan International

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