Why Women's Financial Autonomy Is Critical for a Sustainable Future
It's a continuously disparaging fact: Women experience poverty and a lack of resources and opportunities in drastically disproportionate measures compared to males—across the globe. This stems from unequal divisions of labor, gender pay gaps, and a lack of control over money. Women also more often lack opportunities for "educational attainment, employment outside of the household, asset and land ownership, the inheritance of assets, and control over their financial futures in general," according to the non-profit policy organization Innovations for Poverty Action. Discriminatory actions hinder women and children from finding and sustaining equal positioning with men—and this impacts the world at large. "Gender equality," writes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "remains the greatest human rights challenge of our time."
This vicious cycle perpetuates women's need to depend on their male counterparts. It also stifles economic growth and global empowerment. An essential key in fighting the world's most critical challenges against humanity—food insecurity, climate change, gender stereotypes, racial divides—is the economic and financial empowerment of women. A bolstered, autonomous, and equal female-identifying body has the ability to positively impact humans—across the globe—in unprecedented ways. When women are empowered, economies grow and positive change happens. And above all, it's a right for every human to have the same rights and opportunities to take art in impacting the world and contributing their part.
Fortunately there have been progressive inclusive efforts to eradicate the chains of gender inequality over the decades, but perhaps no efforts and visions have been as bold as those of the United Nations 2030 agenda Leave No One Behind. Drafted several years ago, the agenda presents a framework for governments to follow to completely end discriminatory behavior, empower women, and increase sustainable development progress. The pillars of the report solidify ways drive women's economic empowerment, such as evolving business practices, strengthening collective voice, and improving employment opportunities across all fields of work.
The dense and overarching report may speak to governments but it actually provides is a beacon for every person, company, and organization. Any action can make a difference in empowering women's financial and economic futures. It can be a conversation about women's rights. It can be a rallying cry over social media. It can be a solidified company-wide committed to pay fairly and equally no matter one's gender identity. At UMA, more than half of our employees are women, all of whom are paid fair wages on par with their male counterparts. We offer our staff in India—a country where gender-based pay gaps are often dramatic, particularly in the agriculture industry—ongoing education programs, childcare, and generous pension plans to ensure they have the monetary resources and practical understanding to plan for their financial futures. (We also offer academic scholarships to encourage promising local youth to pursue higher education.)
Change happens at the grassroots level. For the world to have a thriving, equal, positive future, we all need to take part in fighting gender inequality, emboldening women's financial power, and shifting culture.