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Petrina Darrah is a travel writer from New Zealand with a passion for responsible travel and gender equality. She has worked in France, Colombia, the Philippines, and Tanzania, and has travelled to about 50 countries in between.
Why is gender equality important

Inequality between genders doesn’t only affect individuals – it can change entire economies. As a sustainable volunteer program provider, GVI takes into account the importance of gender equality in development.

What does gender inequality look like? 

It’s women working longer hours than men but being paid less. It’s women making up two-thirds of all illiterate people in the world. It’s less than 7% of world leaders being women.

On paper, gender inequality is a long list of statistics showing the imbalance of power between men and women. In real terms, gender inequality is a major challenge on local, national and global levels. 

Not only does it affect the lives of individual men and women, but the inequality between genders also stunts economic growth and hinders development.

Gender equality benefits everyone, which is why it has been nominated as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 5: Gender Equality

As an organisation working towards brighter futures for all individuals, GVI is committed to addressing  the challenges faced by women,  and to meeting the goal of gender equality.

Here’s a closer look at why equal access to education, healthcare and job opportunities is important, what we’re doing about it, and how you can get involved as a volunteer.


GVI volunteer participating in womens empowerment workshops

Why is gender equality important to economic development?

Sustainable development relies on ending discrimination towards women, and providing equal opportunities for education and employment. 

Gender equality has been conclusively shown to stimulate economic growth, which is important, especially in countries with higher unemployment rates and less economic opportunity.

UN Women reported that in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, half of the economic growth over the past 50 years is attributed to girls having better access to education. 

It’s also due to a decrease in the gap between the number of years of schooling that girls receive when compared to boys. 

Because of this, GVI has established projects that put an emphasis on education for girl children, as part of long-term sustainable development initiatives.


GVI projects also focus on education for young girls.


Despite progress made under the UN Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs), in almost all countries around the world women still face barriers to the labour market. 

For example, the World Bank reported that many women around the world are still prevented by law from working in certain jobs. In 18 countries, men can legally forbid their wives from working

On top of this, women face obstacles such as sexual harassment, expected gender roles, and having to carry out the majority of unpaid care work and labour-heavy chores – like collecting water.

Even when women do work, the gender pay gap means they aren’t earning as much as men. Globally, women only earn 81 cents for every dollar that men earn.

These barriers translate to $172 trillion in lost income potential, the World Bank found. 

Unless women have access to empowerment opportunities, allowing them to join the workforce, many countries won’t develop as well as they could.


Women learning about and sharing ideas on the importance of gender equality

The gender and poverty connection

When women have paid work, they invest as much as 90% of their earnings back into their families – compared to men, who reinvest only 35%. 

Because of this, when women earn more income, the health and education of their children improves. The UN states that women’s education is a crucial factor in cutting child mortality rates.

When women are excluded from working, economies are restricted, and poverty continues its cycle. And women and young girls bear the brunt of poverty. 

Globally, more than half of the people suffering from chronic hunger are women. In addition, less than 20% of landowners in the world are women

In areas such as North Africa, the number of women landowners is less than 5%. This leaves women more vulnerable to food insecurity, violence and even extreme weather events caused by climate change.

All of these gender equality statistics tell the same story: the only way to sustainably add to the economy of a community is to focus on initiatives that support women in empowering themselves. 

And, central to empowerment initiatives are education and employment. GVI has a variety of projects that focus on these areas. 


GVI volunteer facilitating professional development classes.


As well as working to provide better education for young girls, GVI participants facilitate professional development classes. These sessions contribute towards women expanding their skill sets and, as a result, having access to better job opportunities. 

And, more options for employment translate into increased independence and income, enabling women to be agents of change in their own lives.

Gender equality in education and the workplace

For each extra year of primary schooling, girls will earn 10 to 20% more when they start working. More years of schooling also means girls marry at a later age and are less vulnerable to intimate partner violence.

To help boost education, GVI assists in supporting schools in rural areas, setting up workshops and training for women and girls, and raising community awareness on the importance of female education.

Gender equality in the workplace means both making sure women have the same opportunities, and are paid the same as men for equal work. To help address this, our women’s empowerment projects look at professional development and ongoing training.

GVI is also focusing on the UN SDG 5 target of making sure that women play an active role in decision making and have the same leadership opportunities as men. 

And our organisation sets an example here, with more than half of the women at GVI holding decision-making positions.


Women in Ghana upskill themselves as participants of a women's empowerment program facilitated by GVI.

What can you do in support of gender equality?

The gap between genders is widest in low and middle-income countries. To add to the support available to women around the world, you can volunteer in women’s empowerment projects. 

GVI’s collaborative way of working and commitment to UN SDG 5: Gender Equality have been guiding factors in establishing volunteer programs that work towards women’s empowerment and community development.

We offer a range of women’s empowerment internships and volunteer programs that address gender inequality. Through these programs, GVI has assisted women in playing more active roles in their communities and in wider society.

Whether you’re adding to women and young girls’ access to education in India, assisting  women to develop themselves professionally in Cambodia, or facilitating women’s healthcare workshops in Laos, you can contribute directly to global gender equality.

Take action on gender equality and browse more women’s empowerment projects today.

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