The richest people in the world have more wealth than 60% of the population - and 22 of them are wealthier than all the women in Africa, a global inequality report, released on Monday by Oxfam, shows.
The report, titled Time to Care, says in 2019 the world’s billionaires - only 2 153 people - had more wealth than 4.6 billion people who make up nearly two-thirds of the globe's population.
It found that today’s "extreme wealth" is also founded on sexism, as men continue to dominate the wealth scales.
"The 22 richest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa."
The report, released ahead of the World Economic Forum, which starts on Tuesday in Davos, highlighted the need for countries to adopt policies aimed at reducing gender-based economic inequality, blaming governments for under-taxing the super-rich and corporations.
“The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these,” Oxfam India CEO, Amitabh Behar, said in a statement.
"Governments created the inequality crisis —they must act now to end it. They must ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and increase investment in public services and infrastructure."
According to the report, roughly one-third of billionaire wealth comes from inheritance, and billionaire wealth has increased since 2009 by an average of 7.4% a year, far higher than any rate an ordinary saver could obtain. The number of billionaires has doubled in the last decade, it added.
The World Bank’s current measures extreme poverty as people living on $1.90 per day.
Unequal pay is also a challenge, and women and girls were said to be putting in hours of work with cheap and free labour.
Women employed in the care-giving sectors, in roles such as domestic workers, nursery workers and other carers, were said to be hardest hit by the scourge of unequal pay.
"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labour, and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector."
Inequality is the major challenge facing the South African economy, with the country often cited as one of the most unequal in the world, a problem blamed on the legacy of apartheid.
In November, a report by Statistics SA revealed that the average monthly earning among blacks, who account for 80% of the population, was R6 899, while the figure was R24 646 for whites.
It said the wage gap between South Africa's groups increased between 2011 and 2015.