Why There is a Need
At Act4Africa, we have provided health and education services for women and men for 20 years. We aim to reduce poverty and stigma by addressing gender inequalities. Over the past 30 years, there has been no greater indicator demonstrating greater impact on development outcomes than gender equality. Here are reasons why there is a need:
- Every 3 minutes someone in Africa is diagnosed with HIV.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV (25.6 million according to WHO in 2015) and new HIV infections in the world.
- Women account for 60% of people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa – and every week 7,000 young women, aged 15-24, are newly infected with HIV.
- £1,000,000 an hour is spent by the World Health Organisation on treating HIV/AIDS and its complications.
- Gender-based violence is linked to HIV transmission through rape and limited power to negotiate condom use. Furthermore, child marriage, and other legal, social and economic barriers reduce the ability of women – particularly young women – and vulnerable men to discuss sex with their partners and independently protect themselves from HIV infection.
- Unequal right to property means that women may be forced out of their homes when widowed or diagnosed with HIV. This increases their vulnerability to illness and the need to undertake sex work.
- Unequal access to treatment means that fewer women than men are treated for HIV illnesses, directly increasing the impact of the epidemic on women. Despite progress, only half of people living with HIV are on treatment.
- Unequal access to appropriate prevention information for women increases their vulnerability to HIV.
- The burden of caring for the sick falls predominantly on women compounding their domestic responsibilities and reinforcing stereotypes about gender roles.
- Adolescent girls, in particular, experience poverty through gender relations that leave them powerless and vulnerable. This forces them into lives of low-paid work, early marriage, HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy and sexual and domestic violence.
- AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (aged 15 to 44) in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- The number of young people in Africa is set to increase substantially, which means that the number of women and girls living with HIV is likely to rise even further in the future.
- Women have less access to formal financial institutions and saving mechanisms.
- Women and girls often have limited influence over resources, restricting what jobs and crops are considered appropriate for women and thus limiting their earning potential in agriculture, enterprise or the labour market.
- Women are more likely to work in less productive sectors, less profitable areas, in low-wage or unpaid family employment, or in the informal wage sector.
- Women’s economic participation and their ownership and control of productive assets speeds up development, helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities and improves children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance.
- Women typically invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men. But they need access to the full range of credit, banking and financial services and facilities essential to more fully develop their assets, their land and their businesses. Find out more about our HEAL project.
- With even a few years of primary education, women have better economic prospects, fewer and healthier children, and better chances of sending their own children to school. See our page on Kathy’s Centre, detailing about our kindergarten service and the importance of early years’ education for Africa’s young.
- If girls’ education continues to secondary level, they will be better equipped to make informed choices about their lives. Find out more about our Grow a Girl programme.
- Inclusion and enhancing numbers of women and girls’ education contributes to higher economic growth – 50 percent economic growth in OECD countries over the past 50 years.
- Studies have proven that for every one additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality decreased by 9.5 percent (data from 219 countries from 1970-2009).
- If a girl is educated for 6 years or more, her childbirth survival rates will dramatically improve.
- Educated mothers immunise their children 50 percent more often than mothers who are not educated.
Gender inequality is arguably the most acute and persistent example of inequality. It is the most fundamental obstacle to eradicating poverty and achieving economic and social development.