The United Nations recently noted that, globally, women account for 2/3 of all working hours, yet despite this they take home only 10 per cent of all global income. This doesn’t surprise me at all. And it’s particularly relevant in developing countries.
In many developing countries women’s work is undervalued and many women don’t have opportunities to work outside of the home because of a lack of formal education and cultural and social norms. That’s why I love the work Opportunity International Australia does in providing small loans to women so they can build businesses and earn regular incomes. They become businesswomen. They are perceived to be more valuable in their families because of the economic contribution they are making. They are empowered.
I remember talking to one woman in India years ago. She said that now she had started her business, she was more valuable to her husband than their cow. She had become an economic provider. Her confidence grew. She became influential. A community leader.
I’m inspired that 95 per cent of Opportunity’s loans go to women. You may ask: “Why?” It’s because when Opportunity gives loans to women they invest them in assets for their businesses and the proceeds of those businesses support their children’s futures through education, good nutrition and healthcare. Opportunity helps these women to acquire assets while they care for their children. And women use these assets to break the cycle of poverty and create a better future for their children. A future filled with opportunities.
Managing Director of Business Lending
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Opportunity International Australia Deputy Chair
Joanna White was a guest panellist at Opportunity’s discussion on women in the changing world of work on 11 May 2017 in Sydney.