Poverty is Sexist

It’s awards season! We’ve made our way through the Golden Globes, The Brits, The BAFTAs and the biggest of them all – The Oscars.

In amongst the glitter and glamour, you may have missed an interesting sentence:


Those three words were embroidered onto TV star Connie Britton’s top (no, I haven’t heard of her either, but apparently she’s on Nashville, that show about country music!)

The response that one black top got was interesting. Firstly because it kind of doesn’t make sense. Or at least, it took me a while to understand it and I only really worked it out when I read some of the responses on Twitter.

When I read through them, including some hilarious GIFs, I started to see the point that Connie was really trying to make:

Nowhere in the world do women have the exact same opportunities as men. Some places are better than others and some have made huge improvements but the fact is it’s the same everywhere. Wherever you go, whichever country you live in, men always have an economic advantage, an educational advantage and find it far easier to reach positions of power.

It’s a global truth.

One of the saddest things about that reality is that the gap between men’s opportunities and women’s opportunities widens when you look at countries suffering the impacts of poverty.

We know that in Africa, less than 50% of children (boys and girls) are able to read and write. It’s a problem for everyone but in places where education is expensive and scarce, girls are often overlooked and boys get the spaces in the classrooms. It’s estimated that 130 million girls are out of school across the world. (Source: one.org)

In 18 countries, a man is legally empowered to prevent his wife from doing a job of which he doesn’t approve. Women in low-income countries have less access to financial institutions and the internet than men. In Africa, nearly three out of four new HIV infections are in adolescent girls. (Source: one.org)

So if poverty is the enemy here, then it is beating women more than it is beating men.

Saying poverty is sexist isn’t saying that men and boys aren’t impacted at all, it’s just acknowledging that more often than not women have a tougher task ahead of them.

In an interview after the Golden Globes, Connie Britton shared an idea that could change all this:

“Luckily, there is one thing that can help bring this kind of powerful change: education. Education is one of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against extreme poverty. There is plenty of evidence that shows educated countries are healthier, wealthier, and more stable — and that access to a quality education is one of the best ways to combat poverty. Educating girls to the same level as boys could help developing countries save money, all while improving the strength of the global economy.”

We’ve seen the incredible difference education has in people’s lives. Polly lives in Malawi, a place where farming is difficult and the time between harvests is long. Through Tearfund’s church partners, AG Care, Polly received an education in Farming Foundations, teaching her simple techniques to farm her dry land and make it flourish again.

Image: Getty images

So how can we join together and help more people like Polly? Let’s pray for our global neighbours, and let’s focus some prayers specifically on those women who suffer more because of their position in their societies. Let’s campaign for equal education opportunities in developing countries. Let’s support charities who are making a difference on the ground, where it’s needed most.

It’s been incredible to see how education changes lives. We’ve seen it in Polly’s story.

It will take all of us. Male and female, but together we can do it.

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