Not a single country has achieved economic equality between women and men. As of 2019, women only had equal rights in six countries. Everywhere else, legal discrimination, harmful beliefs, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care, and low levels of political participation all perpetuate gender inequality.

Here’s everything you need to know to understand why achieving gender equality is crucial to ending extreme poverty.

Why does gender inequality lead to extreme poverty?
Extreme poverty disproportionately affects women because they do not have as many opportunities as men to receive an education, work, or own property.

Girls start missing out on opportunities to reach their full potential at a young age. Families living in poverty often decide to send their boys to school instead of their girls, or allow their daughters to enter into child marriages.

Menstruation is another barrier that prevents girls from attending school if they do not have access to adequate information about their periods, to safe water and sanitation, or to menstrual products. Girls are also more vulnerable to gender-based violence, conflict and crisis, and trafficking.

Unpaid labor is one of the most underlooked contributors to extreme poverty that holds women back, according to Research Specialist at UN Women Silke Staab.

How could achieving gender equality put an end to extreme poverty?

When women are educated, the decisions they make have a ripple effect and can help break the cycle of generational poverty. Women who receive more education “tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn higher incomes, have fewer children, marry at a later age, and enable better health care and education for their children,” according to the World Bank.

Read the full article about gender equality by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.