A new report by Oxfam found that the world’s twenty-two richest billionaires own more wealth than the combined wealth of every African woman over the age of twenty, including two female African billionaires. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and other billionaires are worth a collective US$1.268 trillion, which is greater than the US$1.235 trillion held by the continent’s female population.
The wealth gap between men and women, especially for African women, is exacerbated due to caregiving services provided to children and the elderly for little or no pay. The Oxfam report found that women and girls performed 12.5 billion hours of unpaid work every day, contributing up to US$10.8 trillion to the global economy, which is three times more than the global technologies industry contributes.
This contribution by women limits their ability to pursue an education, earn a decent wage, or run for political office, keeping them within cycles of poverty. The report also urged governments to tamp down on corruption and tax evasion and to invest in water, sanitation, electricity, childcare, and public healthcare. Estimates from Oxfam suggest that improved water sanitation would save Zimbabwean women four hours of extra unpaid work per day.