While the lesser status, fewer opportunities, and missing resources of impoverished women worldwide stand out like bold, accusing letters in our world of fine print and rhetoric, their real, specific needs may be less clear. It doesn't take much searching to discover these exigencies, however - just a practical outlook, listening, and empathy.
Probably the most vital need is for a system shift - the architecture of our economy shrugs at the inequality it enforces concerning the underprivileged. It's a design problem. Somewhat surprisingly, though, there are simple ways to improve an inequality-rooted economy. National enforcement of minimum-wage laws, for example.
Or think on a lower level: secure, decent-paying jobs in the public sector would be a huge aid to women all over the globe, as 95% of them currently make a living via informal jobs that are not backed by any government policies or businesses. Equal pay laws would also be a significant step forward, ensuring that a 24% disproportion between men's and women's wages cannot exist. Fresh, empathetic policies are in desperate demand all over the world.
Secondly, mothers need childcare. This may be among the most overlooked of women's impediments to attending school, getting an education, improving their job possibilities, and bettering their and their family's lives. When preschools are established alongside government services and training programs for mothers, the effectiveness will increase exponentially.
Next, awareness for women - especially but not only in developing countries - about preventing and treating HIV/AIDS is urgent. The disease strikes females most frequently, and infection rates are increasing. Not only that, but as more and more patients contract HIV/AIDS, the amount of required care grows: a role that falls predominately, again, to women. The cycle can't be broken without spreading knowledge and medical treatment. Instituting programs to educate women about protecting their bodies as much as possible, as well as to provide the modern drugs/medications that can prevent or ease the disease, would be a pragmatic approach to breaking one of inequality's many social supports.
Lastly, but far from the end of a complete list, the most basic demand: financial backing. Too often, practical services are unreachable - not offering childcare, for instance - or, especially in the case of social transfers, just nonexistent. The cause is a drastic lack of funds, up to a 90% deficit, that towers in the path of any potential plans for their growth. Without consistent, focused budget funds, which have a history of being low, moving forward is difficult.
The good news is that change isn't out of reach. One person, one company, one country at a time can make a difference in spreading HIV/AIDS treatment, opening up safe, equal-paying jobs, or establishing preschools to accompany their (hopefully expanding) services to women. The fight belongs to all of us, and there's a way for everyone to jump on board.
Made for Freedom has ways for you to get involved! Check out our Impact page!
Photo Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown