International framework

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits the world community to deal with pressing challenges concerning the future of our planet. Eliminating all forms of poverty is on top of the agenda (Goal 1). This can only be achieved if gender-based discrimination is overcome. The 2030 Agenda identifies gender inequality as a key challenge in our world today. Realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is considered a fundamental basis to progress across all goals and targets. 1

About one tenth of the global population lives on less than 1.90$ per day.2 Even more - a total of 1.6 billion people - live in multidimensional poverty.3

Over 85% of the extremely poor live in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

3/4 of the world’s poor live in middle-income countries (primarily in populous lower-middle-income countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia).4

Women and girls living in poverty have fewer resources to cope with the negative effects of poverty. They are likely to be the last to eat and to receive health-care and they have less opportunity to find work or build a business.5 Often people face multiple deprivations. Common denominators of disadvantage are being a woman, being poor and lacking education.6

Gender Gap - Economic Resources

In most parts of the world, women face barriers in accessing the labour market and productive resources. Moreover, women are more engaged in vulnerable employment than men. However, decent work and, for example, access to financial services can raise a woman’s income and thus reduce poverty.

Labour force participation rate (global)7

men: 77%

women: 50%

Globally 65% of men and 58% of women are having an account at a formal financial institution. In high income countries 94% of both sexes have a bank account while in developing economies, generally less people have bank accounts. South Asia is the region with the highest gender gap with 55% of all men and 37% of all women having a bank account. 9

Vulnerable Work:
Informal employment as a percentage of non-agricultural employment by sex8


Gender Gap - Education and Information

“Education is key to developing both people’s potential to help themselves and their employability, and thus to overcome poverty. Education is also crucial when it comes to preventing the next generation following into poverty.”10

Adult literacy rate, population 15+ years (in %) 11

The literacy rate of women and men has risen significantly over the last decades. However, gender gaps remain prevalent particularly in least developed countries.


Access to information is critical for the exercise of basic socio-economic and political rights. Women often do not have the same access to information as men.

Worldwide, women are on average 14% less likely to own a mobile phone.12 In developing countries, 21% fewer women than men have access to a mobile phone.13

In South Asia, women are even 38% less likely than men to own a mobile phone.14

It is estimated that 29% of women and 33% of men in developing countries have access to the internet. Worldwide an average of 41% of all men and 37% of all women use the internet.15

Gender Gap - Water Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash)

The 2010 UN General Assembly Resolution A/Res/64/292 determines that the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.16

Women and youth are disproportionately impacted by water scarcity. The lack of safe drinking water and the lack of sanitation increase the vulnerability of women and youths associated with persistent poverty.17

There are still 2.4 billion people that lack access to adequate sanitation.18 1 in 3 women worldwide lack access to safe sanitation.19

Almost one billion people who do not have access to adequate sanitation still practice open defecation.20 More than half of these people are women.21

Women and girls are often responsible for the family’s water supply. They spend up to 6 hours every day to fetch water.22

  1. UN General Assembly A/RES/70/1 (2015): “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”., para. 14, 20.
  2. World Bank (2016): Poverty and shared prosperity 2016.; p.1
  3. Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI): “Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2016”.
  4. Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI): “Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2016”.
  5. UN Women (2015): „Women and Poverty“.
  6. World Bank (2014): “Voice and Agency. Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity” p. 2.
  7. World Bank (2014): “Social Development”.
  8. ILO (2016) Women at Work. Trends 2016.; p. 11
  9. The World Bank (2014): “Financial Inclusion Data”.
  10. BMZ Strategy Paper (2012): „Fighting Poverty More Effectively – Worldwide. Cross-Sectoral Strategy on Poverty Reduction“.; p.7.
  11. UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2015): „Indicators: Adult literacy rate, population 15+ years, female (%) and adult literacy rate, population 15+ years, male (%) (MDG regions data)“. and UN Women: “Education and Training of Women Infographic”.
  12. GSMA (2015): “Connected Women”.
  13. World Bank (2014): „Voice and Agency. Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity“. p. 153.
  14. GSMA (2015): “Connected Women”.
  15. UNESCO (2013): Doubling Digital Opportunities. ; p.18
  16. UN General Assembly A//64/292 (2010): “The Human Right to Water and Sanitation”. Article 1.
  17. UN Water (2015): “World Water Development Report”. p. 14.
  18. UN (2016): The Sustainable Development Goals Report.; p.6
  19. WaterAid (2013): “We can’t wait”. p. 6.
  20. WHO (2016): Factsheet Sanitation.
  21. WaterAid (2013): “We can’t wait”. p. 6.
  22. UN Water (2013): “Water and Gender”.