Inflation affects women more than men. Civil society can help

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Bincheng Mao, Global Shaper, New York Hub

  • he global inflation crisis affects women and girls disproportionately.
  • Inflation is higher for products aimed at women, who are also less likely to have salaries that keep pace with inflation.
  • Civil society can help by raising awareness, campaigning on childcare reform, and supporting women in the global south.

Across the world, we are facing an acute inflation crisis. In its latest economic outlook report, the IMF forecasts global inflation to increase to a record 8.8 percent in 2022, citing lingering pandemic disruptions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Such high levels of inflation have sent prices of goods and services soaring. And it is therefore urgent to counter this cost-of-living crisis to protect people’s pockets.

The crisis also threatens to unravel social progress on closing the gender pay gap for women. Women are less likely than men to receive a salary rise at a rate higher than the rate of inflation in 2022. In the US, a recent national survey found that men are 33.3% more likely than women to have their salary keep pace with inflation. Similarly, in the UK inflation is forecast to exacerbate the existing gender wage gap between women and men. Civil society organizations need to put pressure on governments to provide more support for women. Here are three ways they can do that:

1. Build greater social awareness

The public needs to be well informed about the facts on the ground in order to mobilize adequate resources and support for women. Civil society organizations should launch coordinated campaigns to raise public awareness of the increased inflationary effects on women’s products. An effective campaign would involve coordination between two types of civil society organizations: research institutions and advocacy groups.

Research-focused civil society groups, such as think tanks, can provide data-driven analyses on key issues, advising the public and policymakers on gender equity during this cost-of-living crisis. Advocacy-focused organizations should actively seek out partnerships with credible research institutions to help amplify expert advice on advancing women’s equality and empowerment.

2. Promote a quality childcare system

People with childcare responsibilities are facing an especially severe cost-of-living crisis. Among them, single parents are significantly more likely to fall into poverty during an economic downturn, as shown during the COVID-19 pandemic. In countries across North America, Europe, and Asia, women make up a majority of single parents; in the US, 80 percent of single-parent families are headed by women.

Affordable childcare can lift families out of poverty and contribute to the economy. Childcare is particularly important for single mothers, as it gives them the time and space to train, allowing them to enter the workforce. Civil society experts need to make the case to governments on establishing or reforming the childcare system to balance inflation control with social welfare. Advocacy organizations should summarize and present data on this through simple visual representations. They should raise public awareness of patterns and trends in gender-based economic inequality, and the impact of inflation.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Gender Parity Accelerator model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in twelve countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Japan and Kazakhstan in Asia.

All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and making recruitment, retention and promotion practices more gender inclusive.

If you are a business in one of the Gender Parity Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Gender Parity Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

3. Support women in the global south

International not-for-profit organizations should also focus their work with governments in the global south around the impact of the inflation crisis on women. International organizations can help collect data that allow local governments to make informed social and development policy decisions. Once policy decisions are made, non-profit organizations can also facilitate their implementation on the local level to ensure those in need receive adequate assistance.

“In order to be a man, you have to recognize that all women and all those around you are equal,” women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai said at the 2018 World Economic Forum annual meeting. In the face of a global inflation and cost-of-living crisis, all of us, men and women, should evaluate and act on the disproportionate impact this crisis has had on women.

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