As world leaders in politics, business and economics converge on the Swiss village of Davos this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a new report published by Oxfam International reveals the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population.
The number of billionaires globally has doubled in the last decade and according to Forbes, Europe is home to over 500 billionaires.
The report shows governments are massively under-taxing the wealthiest individuals and corporations, and failing to collect revenues that could help lift the responsibility of care from women whilst tackling poverty and inequality.
According to Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, who is representing Oxfam in Davos, ‘The gap between rich and poor can’t be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these. ‘
The report entitled, A Time to Care, points to sexist economies that fuel an inequality crisis and enable a wealthy elite to amass vast fortunes at the expense of ordinary people, particularly poor women and girls.
The report shows that:
- The 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa.
- Women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day – a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year, more than 3 times the size of the global tech industry
- Getting the richest 1% to pay 0.5% extra tax on their wealth over the next decade would equal the investment needed to create 117 million jobs in sectors such as elderly and childcare, education and health.
In a statement Oxfam said, ‘Across the globe, 42 percent of women of working age cannot get jobs because they are responsible for all the caregiving, compared to just six percent of men.’
It goes on to say that the pressure on carers, both unpaid and paid, is set to grow as the global population ages. An estimated 2.3 billion people will be in need of care by 2030 —an increase of 200 million since 2015. Climate change could worsen the looming global care crisis —by 2025, up to 2.4 billion people will live in areas without enough water, and women and girls will have to walk even longer distances to fetch it.
Mr. Behar said, ‘Governments created the inequality crisis —they must act now to end it. They must ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and increase investment in public services and infrastructure. They must pass laws to tackle the huge amount of care work done by women and girls, and ensure that people who do some of the most important jobs in our society —caring for our parents, our children and the most vulnerable— are paid a living wage. ‘