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Women's rights

On International Women's Day Minister Müller calls for fair working conditions for women around the world

German Development Minister Gerd Müller visiting the textile factory Tivoli Apparels Ltd. on February 25, 2020 in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Press release of 07.03.2020 |

BERLIN – On the occasion of International Women's Day, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said:
"In many developing countries, women bear the heavier workload – in the fields, in hospitals, or in factories. At the same time they are disproportionately affected by poverty. We have to change that! It is high time for fair working conditions at the start of our supply chains so that women can take control of their lives and feed their families.

Calculations by consulting firm McKinsey show that achieving full gender equality would increase the global Gross National Product by 1,200 billion dollars by 2025. But instead of empowering women around the globe, we are letting millions of women be exploited in global supply chains. In the textile sector alone there are 60 million women working in sewing rooms and dye houses, in many cases doing up to 14 hours a day, six days a week. And they are paid a pittance. The battle against poverty will only be won if women enjoy full equality and access to education, and are well integrated into economic life. That is why I am working to ensure that living wages become the standard across all supply chains."

In 70 per cent of the countries around the world various legal and de facto obstacles persist that prevent women from achieving full economic equality. In many countries, women cannot, for instance, inherit land, open an account, take out a loan or simply rent business spaces.

That is why the German Development Ministry (BMZ) is advocating and strengthening women's rights and promoting full gender equality. The BMZ has launched an official label for textiles, the Green Button, which is already improving the working conditions of many women in the textiles industry. The label is awarded for textiles that have been produced according to particularly high socially and ecologically sustainable standards, in settings where special attention is given to the rights of pregnant women, minimum wages are paid and working hours are clearly defined.

In the follow up to its G20 presidency, Germany also co-founded the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative; its largest donor worldwide with a contribution of 50 million euros is Germany. So far, more than 116,000 women in 50 countries have benefited from access to finance, markets and networks, all of which they need to be able to start and successfully lead a business. The BMZ is also supporting a similar programme via the African Development Bank; this programme will provide support to up to 300,000 female entrepreneurs in Africa over the next few years.

In addition, the BMZ is working to secure land rights for 250,000 women in the next two years. Having land rights gives women the necessary legal certainty to continue using their land and provide for themselves and for her children in the case of a divorce or if their husband dies. Property rights are often a key precondition for taking out a loan. In recent years, more than 135,000 people have received secure land rights.

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