Two Steps Behind: Social Inequality Poses a Challenge for Women’s Financial Inclusion in DR Congo

30 January, 2019

Original Source: FinDev Gateway

The data is new, but it tells a familiar story. A recent FINCA survey of clients in DR Congo shows that women entrepreneurs are confined to the smallest, least profitable businesses. This finding reflects the burden of unpaid work and other social factors that put women at a competitive disadvantage. While many organizations, including FINCA, are working to shift the ground in women’s favor, seeing the facts in hard numbers gives us a realistic picture of the task ahead.

Unpaid Labor Puts Women Behind
Before venturing out of the house and into business, a woman has other tasks to accomplish. Standing between her and the door is a daunting pile of unpaid domestic obligations, including childcare, cleaning, gardening, fetching water, gathering wood and cooking. These activities, which have been valued  between 10 to 40 percent of GDP, occupy more than four hours of a woman’s day, compared with 1.5 hours for men. In effect, by the time women get a chance to compete in business, men’s greater freedom of time and movement has given them a three-hour head-start.

Once they get past these family obligations, a woman will find that men already occupy the most lucrative business segments. Our survey in the DR Congo found that men dominate sectors like wholesale trade and manufacturing, while women compete among themselves in small trading businesses, where the profits and growth prospects are low.

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