Aus­ter­ity is bad for gen­der equal­ity: UN

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Spend­ing cuts are hurt­ing public and so­cial ser­vices that give women the chance to find paid work, in­de­pen­dence and a chance at equal­ity, a U.N. re­port warned on Mon­day.

The United Na­tions’ or­ga­ni­za­tion for gen­der equal­ity, U. N. Women, said in a ma­jor study that mil­lions of women around the world are still con­signed to low-paid, poor qual­ity jobs.

Across the world, the re­port re­veals that women are paid 24 per­cent less than men, and this gen­der pay gap widens for women with chil­dren.

“From Wall Street to the sugar cane fields, the gen­der norms that work against women are strong,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of U.N. Women.

One ma­jor prob­lem is that women still carry the bur­den of work in the home, whether it is car­ing for chil­dren or older peo­ple or walk­ing kilo­me­ters each day to fetch wa­ter.

“Where there are no public ser­vices, the deficit is borne by women and girls,” said Mlam­boNgcuka, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of U.N. Women, at the re­port’s launch in Lon­don.

The re­port noted how the ex­ten­sion of child­care, ma­ter­nity and pa­ter­nity leave helped women into em­ploy­ment, which in turn gave them and their fam­i­lies a chance at a bet­ter life.

Laws reg­u­lat­ing do­mes­tic work and out­law­ing gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion, and the min­i­mum wage also helped re­duce poverty and bring down the bar­ri­ers to equal­ity, it said.

But in Euro­pean coun­tries, aus- ter­ity mea­sures are threat­en­ing public ser­vices, warned co-au­thor Laura Tur­quet.

Rather than sug­gest that such public ser­vices were un­af­ford­able, she said gov­ern­ment should view them as cap­i­tal in­vest­ments akin to in­fra­struc­ture.

Not­ing that women are cur­rently pro­vid­ing many care ser­vices with­out any fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion, she said: “It’s about re­dis­tribut­ing who pays for it and who car­ries that bur­den.”

The re­port also finds that women are more likely to work in un­der­val­ued oc­cu­pa­tions — 83 per­cent of do­mes­tic work­ers are women, and al­most half of them are not en­ti­tled to a min­i­mum wage.

The re­port comes 20 years af­ter land­mark con­fer­ence on women’s rights in Bei­jing.

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