Girls and Women

25 facts that show why poverty is sexist


An open letter to leaders

Poverty really is Sexist.

Why? Because, no matter how you cut it – socially, economically, legally – girls and women who live in extreme poverty are being denied the opportunities that they deserve.

Right now, women and girls living in the world’s poorest countries are less likely to bank the money they earn, own the land they work or get the education they need to thrive.

None of us are equal until all of us are equal and we won’t stop campaigning until there’s justice for women and girls everywhere.

Here are 25 stats that show why #PovertyisSexist:

1. Women aged 15+ make up 57% of new HIV/AIDS infections amongst adults in sub-Saharan Africa.

2. 3 in 4 adolescents (15-19 years old) newly infected by HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are girls.

3. Nearly 750 million girls and women alive today around the world were married before the age of 18. Rates of child marriage have declined in wealthier populations, but high levels of child marriage persist amongst the world’s poorest populations.

4. Over 1 in 4 young women aged 20-24 have had a live birth in the world’s least developed countries. 

5. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, half of births to adolescent mothers are not attended by skilled health personnel. 

6. “Globally, girls aged 5–14 spend 550 million hours every day on household chores, 160 million more hours than boys their age spend.”

7. In sub-Saharan Africa, women make up only 23.6% of parliamentarians. 

8. There is a 7% gender gap in access to bank accounts, which widens to 9% in developing countries.

9. In most countries, women earn 60-75% of men’s wages on average.

10. “In South Asia, over 80% of women in non-agricultural jobs are in informal employment, in sub-Saharan Africa, 74%, and in Latin America and the Caribbean, 54%.”

11. 79 of the economies studied in this report have laws that restrict the types of work women can do.

12. In most sub-Saharan countries, women spend at least 16 million hours a day collecting drinking water. Men spend around 6 million hours a day collecting drinking water.

13. During elections in fragile and transitional states, female voters are 4 times as likely to be targeted for intimation than male voters.

14. In Yemen, women make up 60% of the crop farming labour force. Less than 1% of landholders in Yemen are women.

15. Gender inequality costs the region of Asia and the Pacific nearly USD $80 billion a year. This is mostly due to gender gaps in employment and education.

16.  In 18 economies covered by this report, wives can be legally prevented from working by their husbands.

17. In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend roughly 40 billion hours a year collecting water—the equivalent of a year’s worth of labour by the entire workforce in France.

18. Of all maternal deaths, 99 percent occur in developing countries.

19. In sub-Saharan Africa, 45 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet.

20. Of all still-births that happen in the world, 98 percent happen in low- and middle-income countries.

21. At current rates of progress, women in sub-Saharan Africa will have to wait more than 160 years before they have the same chances as women in rich countries of their babies being born alive.

22. In 155 of the 173 economies covered in this report have at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities.

23. If current trends continue, by 2020 over 75% of women in developing countries still won’t be connected to the internet, compared to 63% of men

24. There are over 130 million girls out of school worldwide. In the world’s poorest countries, girls are out of school at a higher rate than boys.

25. Half a billion women couldn’t read this list.

If you believe that none of us are equal until all of us are equal – join the #PovertyisSexist movement today.


An open letter to leaders

Dear World Leaders, We’re putting you on notice. For 130 million girls without an education. For one billion women without access to a bank account. For 39,000 girls who became child brides today. For women everywhere paid less than a man for the same work. There is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunities as men, but the gender gap is wider for women living in poverty. Poverty is sexist. And we won’t stand by while the poorest women are overlooked. You have the power to deliver historic changes for women this year. From the G7 to the G20; from the African Union to your annual budgets; we will push you for commitments and hold you to account for them. And, if you deliver, we will be the first to champion your progress. We won’t stop until there is justice for women and girls everywhere. Because none of us are equal until all of us are equal.


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