Saleswoman, Sapa, Vietnam

Women and the Face of Poverty

Today (17 Oct) is the UN’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. If I’d have to put a face on poverty, it would be a woman’s. Much like this one, who I met in Sapa, Vietnam, three years ago this month.

Women represent a staggering 70% of the world’s poor, shoulder a disproportionate brunt of their family’s responsibilities, and face an endless litany of injustice and discrimination that blocks or limits access to even their most basic needs. Women produce half the world’s food, work two-thirds of the world’s working hours but take home just ten percent of the world’s income. One in five will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. One woman dies every minute giving birth. Too many are prevented from attending even primary school. Until that changes, nothing else will.

Three of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals specifically address gender issues. More on the MDGs is here.

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