Fight against poverty at risk by threats to women’s rights - Oxfam

Thursday, March 2, 2017
Photo by Kaung Htet/Oxfam

Women across the globe are facing new threats which risk dismantling decades of hard-won rights and de-railing the effort to end extreme poverty, Oxfam warns today.

Ahead of International Women’s Day next week, the international aid agency says that the renewal of the global gag rule restricting US funding for family planning services is the latest of a number of new threats that will have a huge effect on the world’s poorest women.

It comes as progress towards women’s equality risks going into reverse, something that will make it impossible for world leaders to end extreme poverty by 2030. On current rates, the amount of time it will take to close the 23 percent global pay gap between men and women will now take 170 years – 52 years longer than it would have done just a year ago.

And, over the past five years, donor funding directly to women’s rights organisations has more than halved. All of this risks putting women’s rights in reverse.

Nikki Van Der Gaag, Oxfam’s Director of Gender Justice and Women’s Rights said “This is a critical moment for global women’s rights as decades of hard-won progress are under threat. Only by tackling the discrimination against women and girls can we end poverty for everyone. While we should celebrate the progress women have made towards a more equal future, the recent threats to women’s basic human rights highlight that we cannot take this progress for granted.

 “It is vital that we come together to ensure that women’s voices are heard. We all have a part to play, no matter what our gender.”

Oxfam’s report launched today, An economy that works for women, outlines the importance of paid work as a vital route out of poverty for women. Yet gender inequality in the economy is now back to where it stood in 2008 and millions of women around the world continue to face low wages, a lack of decent, secure jobs and a heavy and unequal responsibility for unpaid care work, such as housework and childcare. Even in countries where the distribution is the most equal, it is estimated that women still carry out at least twice as much unpaid care work than men with an estimated global value of $10 trillion per year - more than the GDPs of India, Japan and Brazil combined.

Studies also show that inequality in economic terms costs women in developing countries $9 trillion a year; a sum which would not only benefit women but would unlock new spending power for their families and producing a boost to the economy as a whole.

This International Women’s Day, Oxfam is calling for people around the world to stand up for women’s equal right to safe, decent, fairly paid work and a world free from the injustice of poverty. For more information on how to get involved and details on Oxfam's work tackling women's inequality visit


Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors:

Oxfam’s report An economy that works for women is available to download here from Thursday 2 March.


1.)        23 percent global pay gap between men and women according to the International Labour Organization’s ‘Women at Work: Trends 2016’ 
2.)        The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 estimates it will now take 170 years to close the 23 per cent global pay gap between men and women and gender inequality in the economy is now back to where it stood in 2008 
3.)        The global value of women’s unpaid care work each year is estimated at $10 trillion according to McKinsey Global Institute report 2015 
4.)        Global GDP in 2015 is estimated by the CIA World Factbook as $75.73 trillion at the official exchange rate 
5.)        $9 trillion - annual cost of economic inequality to women in developing countries according to Action Aid’s Close the gap! The cost of inequality in women’s work report 
6.)        The OECD estimate that women still carry out between two to 10 times more unpaid care work than men: OECD stat Employment: ‘Time spent in paid and unpaid work, by sex’ 

Contact information: 

Sophie Bowell 
Oxfam GB I Press Officer (working days: Mon-Wed)
+44 (0)1865 472254
+44 (0) 7810 814980