A slowing economy, lack of social protection and job losses are expected to push about 71 million to 135 million additional people into extreme poverty, according to a new forecast by the UN Women and the UNDP.
They put the figure at approximately 96 million people, of whom 47 million are women and girls. It said that increased care burdens, aggravating impacts for women, slower recovery or reduced public and private spending on services like education and childcare may push women to leave the labour market permanently.
The UN Women and the UNDP said that Central and Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will see the largest increases in extreme poverty. They said that an additional 54 million and 24 million people, respectively, will be pushed below the international poverty line as a result of the pandemic.
It said that the pre-pandemic female poverty rate in this region was projected to be 10 per cent in 2021 but is now expected to reach 13 per cent. Moreover, before the pandemic, projections for the region suggested that by 2030 only 15.8 per cent of the world’s poor women and girls would be living in South Asia. The revised projections now put that figure at 18.6 per cent.
GENDER POVERTY GAP TO WIDEN
The report said that the resurgence of poverty also threatens to deepen gender poverty gaps, especially for people aged 25 to 34. This age group are key productive and family formation periods for both women and men.
In 2021, it is expected there will be 118 women in poverty for every 100 poor men globally, and this ratio could rise to 121 poor women for every 100 poor men by 2030. While sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will be the most impacted, significantly more women than men in South Asia will be affected.
The UN Women and UNDP said that smart investments and sound policies were crucial to put the world back on track to eradicate extreme poverty. The cumulative cost of doing so by 2030 is about two trillion dollars in purchasing power parity (PPP), or just 0.14 per cent of global GDP.
“As more women than men live in poverty, closing the gender poverty gap must be a vital part of a broader poverty eradication strategy. A policy simulation analysis emanating from the International Futures Model estimates that over 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers,” the report said.
“Applying a gender lens in designing fiscal stimulus packages and social assistance programmes is crucial for building a more prosperous, equal, inclusive and resilient society,” the UN organisations said.