The number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s wealthiest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined last year, the charity Oxfam said Monday.
Meanwhile, unpaid or underpaid work by women and girls adds three times more to the world’s economy each year at least $10.8 trillion than the technology industry, the Nairobi-based charity said in its “Time to Care” report.
Women around the world work 12.5 billion hours combined each day without any pay or recognition, while the world’s 22 richest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa.
“It is important for us to underscore that the hidden engine of the economy that we see is really the unpaid care work of women. And that needs to change,” Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, told Reuters.
“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist,” Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam beginning Tuesday.
“Women and girls are among those who benefit least from today’s economic system,” he added.
There will be at least 119 billionaires worth about $500 billion attending Davos this year, according to Bloomberg, with the highest contingents coming from the US, India and Russia.
“The very top of the economic pyramid sees trillions of dollars of wealth in the hands of a very small group of people, predominantly men,” the Oxfam report said.
“Their wealth is already extreme, and our broken economy concentrates more and more wealth into these few hands,” it said.
To highlight the inequality, Behar cited the case of a woman called Buchu Devi in India who spends up to 17 hours a day walking almost two miles to fetch water, cooking, preparing her kids for school and working in a poorly paid job.
“And on the one hand you see the billionaires who are all assembling at Davos with their personal planes, personal jets, super rich lifestyles,” he said.
“This Buchu Devi is not one person. I in India encounter these women on a daily basis, and this is the story across the world. We need to change this, and certainly end this billionaire boom.”
Behar said that to remedy the problem, governments should make sure above all that the rich pay their taxes, which should be used to pay for amenities such as clean water, health care and better schools.
“If you just look around the world, more than 30 countries are seeing protests. People are on the street and what are they saying? That they are not to accept this inequality, they are not going to live with these kind of conditions,” he said.
Source: New York Post