Women in South Asian countries earn 80% less than their male counterparts, an ActionAid study has found.

The study also reveals that inequalities of all kinds are on the rise. This is happening despite the fact that the moral, political and economic justifications for such inequalities – whether between women and men, between Dalit and Brahmin, or between black and white – are increasingly being challenged.

ActionAid, an international NGO working against poverty and injustice, published the findings yesterday in a report titled “The Price of Privilege: Extreme wealth, unaccountable power and the fight for equality in the 21st century.” The study was based on work experiences in 45 countries and information from around the world.

The study finds that women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia earn 80% less than men.

Also, women from 32 countries contribute as much as $3 trillion in labour value to global healthcare in 2010, nearly half of it unpaid, the report states.

It recommends that women’s unpaid care burden should be redistributed and reduced. This issue is especially important for Bangladesh where ActionAid says women spend six hours to do unpaid care work each day compared to only one hour spent by a man.

The richest 1% of the global population now control over half of the global wealth, while the poorer half of the world control less than 1% of wealth, the report says.

The combined wealth of the 200 richest people in the world – $3.18 trillion – is greater than the total wealth of Africa – $2.83 trillion – and nearly equivalent to the total wealth of Brazil – $3.194 trillion.

According to the report, the richest 64 individuals control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people hold.
Referring to the report, ActionAid Bangladesh country director Farah Kabir said, ‘When so much of the world’s resources are controlled by so few, we cannot talk about poverty and inequality without also talking about extreme wealth, consumption patterns and elite capture of power. All governments have now promised to act on inequality but almost all are failing to walk the talk. The power of money is ripping societies apart.’
Inequality will not be reduced with warm words and business as usual from political leaders. The focus now needs to shift to the real solutions that people are demanding to fix it – those require a more fundamental transformation. A country like Bangladesh should focus on the creation of more and better jobs for women and men and on ensuring that the rich pay their fair share as a way to pay for social protections for poor and vulnerable communities,’ she added.
The report quotes Shazeda Begum, a woman farmer and farmers’ leader from Ghoraghat, Dinazpur, on how inequality is increasing for farmers, especially women farmers.

She said, ‘Our country’s Gross Domestic Product has increased; however, there is little reflection of that in the development of life of the people dependent on agriculture.’
Redistributing and reducing women’s unpaid care burden is one of the main recommendations of the report. It’s also important for Bangladesh, as women spend six hours a day to do unpaid care work, where men spend just one hour.
The report also recommended steps including instituting a wealth tax and investing in public services to reduce inequality.
The president of Uruguay, José Mujica said, ‘Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute
enough of those profits so that workers have the money to buy the goods they produce.’


The report further addresses the range of inequalities and the interconnections between them – especially how inequalities of gender and ethnicity intersected with inequalities of wealth.  – See more at: The Price of Privilege: Extreme Wealth, Unaccountable …