Categories
Business

Girls and women put themselves on the agenda at Davos

This is the web version of raceAhead, Fortune’s daily newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. To get it delivered daily to your inbox, sign up here.

The World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland, is underway, and it’s starting to feel like a reckoning between a handful of billionaires and billions of girls and women.

A new report from Oxfam released yesterday ahead of the confab tells the tale: The world now has 2,153 billionaires who collectively control more wealth than the poorest 4.6 billion people living on the planet with them. The 22 richest men have more wealth than all of the women in Africa combined, some 660 million souls. Girls and women perform 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day, which data show adds $10.8 trillion to the global economy every year.

If the future is feminist, then it’s got charts and graphs to back them up.

It’s well past “Time to Care,” the report authors say, that this accumulation of wealth comes largely at the expense “of ordinary people and particularly poor women and girls.”

If you want to fix the world, start paying women:

“Governments around the world must act now to build a human economy that is feminist and values what truly matters to society, rather than fueling an endless pursuit of profit and wealth. Investing in national care systems to address the disproportionate responsibility for care work done by women and girls and introducing progressive taxation, including taxing wealth and legislating in favor of carers, are possible and crucial first steps.”

It makes the presence of Greta Thunberg, a single girl who has helped kickstart a global climate activism movement, and who has jousted on social media with one of the most powerful political leaders in the world, even more poignant.

Thunberg and President Trump continued to trade shade at Davos without naming the other, a local reckoning with global implications.

In remarks preceding a panel discussion, Thunberg pointedly called out the wealthy and powerful for their continued inaction, referenced the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord, then brushed aside President Trump’s announcement that the administration would join the One Trillion Trees initiative to offset carbon emissions.

“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough… It cannot replace mitigation,” she said. In his own remarks, Trump referred obliquely to the “alarmists” at the conference, and the “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.” Thunberg was in the audience, unrattled and unmoved.

If the future is feminist, it’s also fearless.

Ellen McGirt
@ellmcgirt
Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com