I worry that amid the economic devastation that is being inflicted worldwide by the coronavirus pandemic, the case for gender equality will move, for a while at least, to the backburner. If this happens, I sincerely hope it is only temporary, because the case needs to be made again and again. Better decisions and wider prosperity will be the outcome if discrimination against women is ended and their true contribution to society is recognised and properly remunerated. Right now, I fear that the huge drop we will see in GDP in coming months will affect women more – except those working in the NHS and at supermarket tills.
One graph hit me hard in Linda Scott’s readable new book, The Double X Economy. It shows the results of a survey carried out by the International Women’s Coffee Alliance in Kenya. This demonstrates clearly that it is women who do the bulk of the work up to the moment when the coffee has been produced and taken to market, at which point men take over, selling it and collecting the money from sales. And when it comes to who is deemed to ‘own’ the coffee, the answer seems to be that 95 per cent of it is owned by men and just 5 per cent by women.
The World Bank produces a list of countries that still impose restrictions on women’s participation in the labour force. The number of those that don’t can almost be counted on your hands. Scott, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, uses the research she has carried out in