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Women in the Workforce

It is no secret that women, on average, earn less throughout their careers than men. One of the results of this disparity can be reduced savings for women, which, in turn, may reduce quality of life and resilience over lifetimes. According to Brookings, women's social security benefits typically result in 80 percent less upon maturation than men’s. Having a child reduces a woman’s Social Security benefits by an average of 16 percent.

As climate change exacerbates problems such as health vulnerabilities, and creates new issues worldwide, fewer financial resources can translate to increased risk for women, their families, and their communities.

Conversely, leveling the retirement and pay gaps between women and men can create economic growth. A 2017 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that the poverty rate of working women would be cut in half if women earned as much as men. The research also said equal pay would add $513 billion to the US economy if men’s wages stayed the same. ActionAid, an international organization that aims to reduce poverty, estimated equal pay would boost women’s earnings in developing countries by $2 trillion.

While pay is not the only way to serve women in the workplace, it is a cornerstone of helping women to grow professionally and into leadership and to build resilience. In the coming years this is likely to be an issue of greater importance to investors and regulatory bodies.

The report “Mainstreaming Gender and Targeting Women in Inclusive Insurance,” highlights how the insurance needs of women are different from those of men: women are more at risk of losing their income because of pregnancy, divorce or separation, as well as constraints imposed by society and laws. Insurance can play a major role in increasing financial protection for women by targeting their specific needs.

Overall insured losses from natural disasters reached $130 billion in 2021, well above the 21st Century average of $74 billion, according to Aon. Roughly 38 percent of global economic losses were covered by insurance, which translates to a protection gap of 62 percent. Closing this gap helps companies and communities build resilience, and insurance for women plays a critical role in this work.

The market for women’s insurance is promising. Assupol, a South African mutual insurance company, concluded that as women become bigger contributors to household income, they are more likely to buy insurance than men because they are concerned about family protection. In 2014, women accounted for 75 percent of Assupol’s new sales.

One way these schemes can be successful is when a community-based organization close to the end-user works in partnership with a private insurer at scale. Oxfam and the UN World Food Programme’s R4 Rural Resilience Initiative was designed to primarily provide women suffering weather-related losses in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Senegal, Malawi, and Zambia with drought insurance and credit to be used for climate adaptation. To reach the participants, they used community-based organizations that already had relationships with local women. IFC’s Women’s Insurance Program, created with support from the governments of Canada and Japan, as well as the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), helps insurers design solutions that improve the financial security of women in emerging markets.

Addressing the Underserved

4. Opportunities from Elevating Women in the Supply Chain

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