Gender-Lens Wealth: How you can help close equality gaps

Issues of gender equality have made enormous strides in recent decades, but equality is still a long way off—on the order of 80 years or more, according to a 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) report. But deploying private wealth toward equality goals could amplify progress. A new UBS report, Gender-Lens Wealth (PDF, 6 MB), takes a look at what private resources could mean for progress in gender equality.

When creating its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, the UN specifically outlined nine goals under the header SDG 5—achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. These nine goals span a number of ambitious agendas for gender equality, aiming to close gaps across economic, educational, health, and political outcomes. But the SDG 5 goals typically receive only a small portion of funding compared to other SDG goals, and nearly all financial support comes from governments and NGOs (non-government organizations, typically non-profits with policy or philanthropic missions). The resources of private citizens are underutilized in these efforts, as UBS discussed in a recent white paper for the WEF annual meeting in Davos. This pool of private wealth represents an enormous well of potential for moving toward milestones of equality.

Wealth with a gender lens

Gender-Lens Wealth is the latest UBS report in an ongoing series focused on women in today’s globalized world. The report offers a comprehensive look at the state of gender equality, offering a picture of current inequalities across a number of categories under the UN’s SDG 5 efforts. But the report also reveals the way that the wealth and other resources of private citizens can be deployed to achieve more. In light of the current culture of activism and the modern-day power of social networks, the time may be particularly ripe to find ways to involve private citizens more deeply.

Key takeaways

  • UBS’s new report, Gender-Lens Wealth, offers actionable ways for private citizens to deploy their wealth and power toward improving gender equality.
  • Gaps in gender equality persist around the world to different degrees. In the U.S. and Canada, women’s political power is only 16% – 22% of men’s, while in Latin American countries, the burden of unpaid care work falls almost entirely on women. In some regions, violence and exploitation are the priority issues.
  • The UN outlines nine specific goals for gender equality by 2030, but the resources of private wealth are not sufficiently targeted to support policy, commercial and cultural progress.
  • Your UBS Financial Advisor can help you determine how you can contribute toward these larger goals in support of gender equality.

Where gaps are greatest

In the U.S. and Canada, women have roughly 60% of the economic privileges of men and only 16% - 22% of the political power. Argentina, Mexico and Brazil have the lowest rate of male participation in unpaid care work, with men doing only 40% of the work that women do. In France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain, females make up fewer than 30% of science graduates. In some countries, women still face legal and commercial discrimination in terms of inheritance and access to financial services and land, not to mention the violence, exploitation and other harmful practices afflicting many women and girls around the globe.

The authors of Gender-Lens Wealth identify a number of areas where private wealth can contribute, leading with issues around maternity leave, domestic work (including childcare) and STEM education, fields where girls are chronically underrepresented. Female leadership and access to financial services, land and inheritance are also identified as zones for high private impact.

Stronger together

The potential of private wealth is vast, but individual actions and contributions can be limited in scope. To compound their efforts, individuals should look for ways to connect their networks of powerful and wealthy peers and align efforts toward common goals. For instance, changing the parental leave policy within your own company is a start, but influencing peers to do the same at their companies amplifies the impact. The same principle applies to funding startups aimed to serve women with commercial products and services, or uniting with like-minded donors on outcome-focused philanthropy. By working together, gender-lens wealth can take greater steps toward meeting SDG 5 and setting the new agenda for 2030 and beyond.

Taking a gender-lens view of your wealth is one of many ways you can align your resources with your values and passions, while at the same time supporting your own ultimate financial goals and needs.

To understand how to best incorporate global trends into your own investment strategy, connect with your UBS Financial Advisor or find one.