Around the world women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty. In most countries, women earn 60-75% of men’s wages on average, and this gap widens based on race and ethnicity. A recent study found that 79 countries around the world have laws that restrict the types of work women can do. Globally, women are less likely to own land, receive a secondary education, have access to a banking institution, and in low income communities, maternal mortality rates skyrocket. These statistics are even higher for women of color. Moreover, this inequality has only been further highlighted by the recent impacts of the global pandemic, Covid-19.
And yet, it has been proven that investing in women and girls is beneficial to the economy and society overall. Compared to men, women are more likely to pay off loans and invest their earnings into familial units, having a positive ripple effect in their communities. Moreover, when women and girls have proper access to education and stable financial support, the chance of teen pregnancies, maternal deaths, child marriages, and gender-based violence decreases significantly.
Despite these correlations, it’s projected that global gender equality will not be reached for another 108 years. To help us understand the challenges to global gender equality, especially in-light of Covid-19, the Columbus Council on World Affairs has invited Gayle Smith to lead us in a discussion around this very important topic.
About the Speaker
Gayle E. Smith is the President and CEO of the ONE Campaign. She served as a top advisor on development issues for two American presidents and is one of the world’s leading experts on global development. She brings an unparalleled expertise on development and democracy issues, and an extraordinary network of relationships across the African continent and around the world. In her most recent role, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Smith led a staff of more than 10,000 people working to end extreme poverty, foster sustained and inclusive economic growth, and promote resilient, democratic societies all over the world. Smith had previously served as special assistant to President Obama and senior director for development and democracy at the National Security Council, and as special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council. Before her work on the NSC Smith founded the sustainable security program at the Center for American Progress, and co-founded the ENOUGH project and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. She also worked as a journalist and with NGOs in Africa for more than 20 years. Smith is originally from Bexley, Ohio and earned a B.A. from the University of Colorado.
Ohio Women’s Fund
Columbus Women’s Commission