Does women’s empowerment boost economic growth

Does women’s empowerment boost economic growth

By : Dr. Rulia Akhtar

The idea of gender equality states that both men and women must experience the same situations in order to fully exercise their fundamental rights and have an equal opportunity for contributing to the advancement of society’s economic, cultural, and political structures. The empowerment of women has become a popular topic globally in the twenty-first century. In today’s world, women are fiercely competing in social, political, and economic spheres for equality with males. In practical terms, the vast majority of nations in the globe still view women’s emancipation as a fantasy. Gender disparity is a global problem; in some areas, there are still glaring disparities in access to paid jobs, and there are large wage gaps between men and women. The disparate distribution of unpaid care and domestic work, sexual abuse and exploitation, and prejudice in public decision-making continue to be major obstacles.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for gender equality and women’s rights, including equal opportunities for boys and girls to primary schooling. Despite these advancements, women and girls persist to face prejudice and harassment everywhere in the globe. The SDGs seek to capitalise on these successes to guarantee that prejudice towards women and girls is eradicated globally. Even while numerous countries and organisations proclaim to be addressing the issue of inequality, an estimated 1.4 billion women and girls continue to be the targets of sexism, violence, and other forms of injustice.

Nearly 2.7 billion women around the world are legally barred from having the same selection of employment as males. Of the 189 countries evaluated in 2018, 104 still have laws prohibiting women from holding certain jobs, 59 have no laws against sexual harassment at work, and 18 allow husbands to forbid their spouses from working.

The disparity between men and women in Malaysia can be seen in the labour force participation rate, where men continue to dominate most major industries and higher positions. Women in Malaysia have attained a certain level of equality with males after more than 65 years of independence; they are assigned to multiple areas of decision-making in both the governmental and commercial sectors. Malaysia’s contribution to the global gender gap index in 2022 was 0.68. The global gender gap index climbed from 0.64 in 2007 to 0.68 in 2022, expanding at an average yearly rate of 0.39%.

Malaysia placed 103 out of 146 nations on the Global Gender Gap Index in 2022 based on statistical information on men and women gaps in learning, economic advancement, wellness, as well as involvement in political roles, despite the fact that the state acknowledges the significant role women play and their contribution to the advancement of the country. The assertion that traditional cultural norms are the main reason why Malaysian women fall behind men is refuted. Although Malaysia has made great strides towards reaching the SDGs, there is always room for enhancement, particularly with regard to goal 5, which is gender equality and the empowerment of women. When it comes to gender parity, Malaysia has a dismal history.

In addition to being an essential human right, gender parity is also a precondition for a globe that is stable, affluent, and sustained. Gender parity is more concerned with the opportunities available for women to engage than it is with the same rights that women are entitled to.

One of the greatest potential directions for Malaysia’s the future growth is the encouragement of financial possibilities for women. The income per capita of Malaysia might increase by 26.2% if all financial obstacles for women were abolished, translating to an increase in average annual income of RM 9,400. According to Economic Empowerment of Women, research from a number of nations demonstrates that shifting family spending in favour of children occurs when women control a larger percentage of household income, whether either their own employment or financial transfers. In addition, women’s wages are typically between 70 and 90 percent of men’s, with significantly lower ratios in various Asian and Latin American nations.

The empowerment of women, in the words of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), entails giving women more authority and influence over their own lives. The foundation of female empowerment is the concept of strength. Female empowerment is the process of enhancing the capacity of women both as individuals and as groups in the areas of the religious, political, societal, academic, and economy.

Women’s access to fiscal advantages and resources, such as employment, monetary services, real estate and other profitable assets, training for skills, and market intelligence, rises with financial empowerment. Economic growth and gender equality are intimately related and reinforce one another. Economic empowerment of women has a variety of favourable benefits on both the individual and society levels. Here are some significant ways that women’s empowerment impacts economic growth:

First off, women represent a considerable fraction of the population, and their full involvement in the labour field has the potential to greatly increase economic productivity. Access to education, training programmes, and employment possibilities for women promotes their engagement in the workforce, which boosts economic production and productivity.

Second, empowered women are more inclined to launch their own companies and participate in entrepreneurial endeavours. This promotes innovation, produces jobs, and stimulates the economy. Greater economic development results from the different viewpoints, ideas, and solutions that women entrepreneurs offer to the market.

Third, poverty can be reduced through advancing economic equality for women. Women get out of poverty. When women have access to financial resources and employment opportunities, they may improve their standard of living for both of themselves and their family. By rescuing women from poverty, communities and cultures can improve their overall economic well-being.

Fourth, women tend to make greater investments in the health, education, and welfare of their families when they have control over their income and resources. Better human capital development results from this, which is necessary for long-term economic success. Increased purchasing power among women also boosts consumer demand and propels the economy.

Fifth, empowering women helps to lessen gender inequality in society. This entails tackling gender-based discrimination, enhancing access to healthcare and education, advancing gender-responsive policies, and making sure that everyone has an equal chance in the workforce. The full potential of women’s ability and capabilities can help economies when they are empowered and have equal rights and opportunities.

Sixth, the advancement of women has broader social effects, such as increased social stability and advancement. Fewer children are born to empowered women, which benefits population growth and the availability of resources. Additionally, the advancement of women results in more inclusive decision-making processes that improve social cohesion, governance, and development as a whole.

Last but not least, governments, organizations, and societies recognize the significance of women’s empowerment in driving economic growth. The 2030 Agenda for SDGs, in particular, depend on empowering women in the workforce and eliminating gender disparities. Efforts to promote gender equality (goal 5), eliminate discriminatory practices (goal 10), provide access to education and healthcare (goal 3 and 4), reduce poverty (goal 1), ensure equal pay (goal 10), and support women’s entrepreneurship are crucial in harnessing the full potential of women for economic development.

Dr. Rulia Akhtar
Research Fellow
Ungku Aziz Centre for Development Studies (UAC)
Office of Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation),
Universiti Malaya, Malaysia


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