Tej Kohli: Ending poverty blindness means ending gender inequality too

Source: IAPB
Source: OXFAM

Pervasive Gender Inequality

Gender inequality is one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of inequality. It denies women their voices, devalues their work and makes a woman’s position unequal to a man’s not only at ‘household’ level, but at national and global levels too. Because of this, women are more likely to live in poverty than men, and more likely to suffer needlessly from the many forms of poverty-driven blindness that are either entirely avoidable or curable.

Gender Discrimination in Healthcare

Given the prominence of poverty blindness in India, which is where I have focused a lot of my own alleviation efforts, it is worth considering the following study of outpatient appointments at one major tertiary care hospital in Delhi, which was originally published by the BMJ Open. It found that younger (30 and below) and older (60 and above) women and those living furthest away from the hospital were the most likely to miss out on healthcare.

Source: MIG

Gender Inequality and Poverty

Whilst the Delhi study shows a clear correlation, it cannot infer causation. But we already know that extreme poverty mostly disproportionately affects women because they do not have as many opportunities as men to receive an education, work, or to own property.

Source: Reuters

Gender Equality Benefits Everyone

$9 trillion a year is a sum which would not only give new spending power to women and benefit their families and communities but would also provide a massive boost to the economies of developing nations as a whole. Countries with higher levels of gender equality tend to have higher income levels, and evidence from a number of regions and countries shows that closing the gender inequality gap leads to a demonstrable reduction in poverty.

How Can We Achieve Gender Equality?

According to the UN, to achieve equality women and girls must receive, “equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes”. Many poverty reduction programs make the mistake of simply focusing on finding women jobs, but investments in the expansion of basic infrastructure and public services such as childcare are just as necessary. New laws that promote equality in the workplace, end harmful practices, and prevent gender-based discrimination are all crucial to achieving gender equality and ending extreme poverty, too.

Source: ODI

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Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli is a technologist and investor who is best known for curing blindness in the developing world as co-founder of the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation