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  • The report was released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

    The report was released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 January 2020

“This great divide is based on a flawed and sexist economic system that values the wealth of the privileged few, mostly men," the NGO said.

The world’s billionaires, representing 2,153 people, had more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined in 2019, a report conducted by Oxfam revealed Monday.

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The charity noted in its study titled “Time to Care” and released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, that “this great divide is based on a flawed and sexist economic system that values the wealth of the privileged few, mostly men, while more than the billions of hours of the most essential work, the unpaid and underpaid care work, is done primarily by women and girls around the world.”

In its study, Oxfam calculated that unpaid care work done by women and girls added at least US$10.8 trillion a year in value to the world economy, three times more than the tech industry.

“Yet most of the financial benefits accrue to the richest, the majority of whom are men,” the researchers wrote, adding that “this unjust system exploits and marginalizes the poorest women and girls while increasing the wealth and power of a rich elite.” 

“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,” CEO of Oxfam India Amitabh Behar told Reuters.

To highlight the level of inequality in the global economy, Behar cited the case of a woman called Buchu Devi in India.

Devi spends 16 to 17 hours a day doing work like fetching water after trekking three km, cooking, preparing her children 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 this, governments should make sure above all that the rich pay their taxes, which should then be used to pay for amenities such as clean water, healthcare, and better quality 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 kinds of conditions."

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