Bill and Melinda Gates: No matter where you're born, 'life will be harder if you are born a girl'

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Bill and Melinda Gates in the CBS Toyota Greenroom before their appearance on CBS THIS MORNING, Feb 12, 2019. (Photo by Michele Crowe/CBS via Getty Images)
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Everything is harder for girls, say Bill and Melinda Gates.

The statement comes from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's third annual Goalkeepers Data Report, published Tuesday. The report tracks health, development and inequality data around the world.

This year's report showed while there has been improvement in global inequality, it remains a persistent problem. And one factor stood out in the report as contributing to unequal outcomes across the globe: gender inequality.

"Gender inequality cuts across every single country on Earth," the report, co-authored by the Gates, said. "No matter where you are born, your life will be harder if you are born a girl."

And "If you are born in a poor country or district, it will be even harder," they wrote.

That's because starting from a young age, boys' and girls' lives diverge: Females receive less education than boys, they marry earlier and they do more unpaid care work, according to the report.

"Boys' worlds expand. They rely less on their parents, venture farther and farther from home, and enroll in high school or college or get a job, which puts them in contact with wider society," the Gates wrote.

"At the same time, girls' worlds contract. They transition, sometimes at a very young age, from being subservient to their parents to being subservient to their husbands. Although they enjoyed some measure of freedom while attending primary school, they are expected to return to the confines of the home, to devote themselves to cooking, cleaning and raising children."

Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/2019 Goalkeepers Report

For example, around the globe, the average adult woman spends more than four hours per day doing unpaid care work, whereas the average adult man spends just over one hour per day doing unpaid work, according to the report.

The unpaid work that women do is estimated to be worth $10 trillion.

The gap between unpaid care work that women do, compared to men, is the greatest in Northern Africa and Western Asia, the report says, but the gap exists in every part of the globe.

In the U.S., men spend 2.4 hours a day — about 17 hours a week — doing unpaid labor, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Women in the U.S. spend just over four hours doing unpaid labor each day — about 28.5 hours a week.

Women are also paid less than men for work they do outside the home. In the U.S., women earn 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, according to Equal Pay Today. The wage gap is greatest for Latina women, who earn 53 cents for every dollar men earn, followed by Native American women (58 cents) and Black women (61 cents). White women earn 77 cents for every dollar, and Asian-American women earn 85 cents.

When women have less education and access to jobs, it's "Destructive for everyone," the Gates wrote in their report. "It keeps women disempowered, limits their children's life chances and slows down economic growth," the Gates wrote.

The more education women complete, the better jobs they are likely to have, but education alone is not enough, as the chart women below shows.

Source: IHME/2019 Goalkeepers Report

"In some countries, girls tend to be well-educated yet under-represented in the workforce," the Gates wrote. "In other words, until you address discriminatory norms and policies, women won't have equal access to high-quality job opportunities."

To be sure, gender is not the only factor keeping global inequality entrenched: Where you are born, your health and access to healthcare and the years of schooling completed are among the many factors outlined in the report.

See also:

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Bill and Melinda Gates say it's unfair that they have so much wealth
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