Indian women work at a garment factory in Ludhiana MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images

The High Price of Gender Inequality

The huge costs of depriving women and girls of rights and opportunities are borne not only by women and girls themselves, but also by their families, communities, and the entire economy. By investing in women and girls and ending gender inequality, we can eliminate those costs and change the fate of entire countries.

OTTAWA – There is no doubt that ensuring that women and girls enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men and boys is the right thing to do from a moral and ethical standpoint. But it also makes economic sense – $160 trillion worth, to be precise.

A new report released by the World Bank Group, with support from the Canadian government, finds that if women had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth would increase by $23,620 per person, on average, in the 141 countries studied, for a total of $160 trillion. That is a lot of money that could be put toward, say, reducing inequality, expanding the ranks of the middle class, and mitigating the factors that drive social and political instability.

Despite this clear opportunity, women still only account for 38% of their countries’ human capital wealth, defined as the value of the future earnings of adult citizens. In poor and lower-middle-income countries, women account for just one-third of such wealth – or even less.

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