New Oxfam report argues ‘Inclusive growth’ must include women

Photo ©Jason P. Howe/Oxfam GB

19 JANUARY 2012 | LONDON - Today’s launch of Oxfam’s report, Left behind by the G20? challenges the assumption that strong growth is enough in itself to prevent poverty. It shows that income inequality is actually growing in most G20 countries at the same time as unsustainable economic expansion is depleting natural resources. The net effect is deadly: not only rendering the benefits of economic growth inaccessible for the poor, but diminishing the natural resources so many rely on to survive and exposing them to the impacts of climate change.

As the great and the good gather at the snow-capped mountains of Davos, a vital question sits on the agenda that holds the potential to transform the lives of the world’s poorest people. That question, as Lee Howell, Managing Director for the Centre for Global Events at the World Economic Forum puts it, is how do we ensure “growth is sustainable, equitable and inspiring for future generations?” Beyond this, how can we ensure that equitable growth really extends to women, who continue to face multiple barriers to equal rights and opportunities across the world?

The report shows that only four countries in the G20 have improved income inequality since 2000: Brazil, Korea, Mexico and Argentina; something they have managed to do while growing. But income inequality only tells part of the story. Inequalities of wealth and gender inequalities also impact on development outcomes. In many countries, the subordinate status of women and girls translates into less access to education, health services, political spaces, land and credit.