Policy Briefs

Women and poverty in the South Caucasus
Monday, 28 November, 2022

A world without poverty is the number one goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Yet, poverty risks have been exacerbated globally in recent years, due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war on Ukraine. Researchers currently estimate that between 760 and 873 million people around the world will be living in extreme poverty in 2022.  Out of these, 388 to 446 million will be women and girls (compared to 372-427 million men and boys). Statistics reveal that women outnumber men in the poorest 20 percent of households in more than half of the countries around the world for which gender-disaggregated data is available (UN Women, 2015).  The gendered nature of poverty has also been documented within many countries around the world.

From a conceptual perspective, the causes of the gender poverty gap may be traced to the disbalance in economic power between men and women, and the existence of gender-discriminatory structures and cultural practices, those which prevent women from accessing the resources needed to lift themselves out of poverty or become less vulnerable (Chant, 2003, 2010; Johnsson-Latham, 2004). For example, it is widely documented that women earn less than men globally and that the gender pay gap is a phenomenon characteristic of both developing and developed countries (Terada-Hagiwara et al., 2018). Additionally, women also tend to be over-represented in informal employment, which exacerbates economic vulnerability – for example, according to the data, as much as 63% of informal workers worldwide are women (UN Women, 2015). Additionally, unpaid domestic care for children and elderly family members is also mostly shouldered by women (Babych, 2021) and this contributes to lower labor force participation rates, hence reducing the lifetime earnings of women.