Gender Equality in Developing Countries

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NEW YORK CITY – The Central African Republic (CAR) is experiencing an upheaval of political turmoil, violence and discrimination that is tearing the country apart. Marginalized populations – in this case, women – usually incur the brunt of the trauma. In the CAR, one in three women is affected by gender-based violence. That statistic is shocking, to say the least, and unfortunately is only one of the discriminatory practices that women face in the developing world.

Eight hundred women die every day in sub-Saharan Africa from pregnancy-related health complications. That’s 292,000 deaths per year from something that could easily be avoided if equity in public health programs existed  for women. In addition, women are paid 10 to 30 percent less on average than men for the same or similar jobs. Job security for women is unstable, yet women tend to shoulder the burden for raising a family and securing food. Furthermore, women are woefully underrepresented in the decision-making process, where only one in five legislators is a woman.

How can sustainable international development take place when a massive segment of the population remains marginalized from achieving equality? The simple answer is that it cannot. The UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) attempted to promote gender equality policies and the empowerment of women, but the disheartening statistics above indicate that those goals fell well short.

The Institute of Development Studies is looking beyond the MDGs to address gender equality issues. The recommendations the IDS offes might hold the key for success of ushering in a new era of gender equality. If not, development goals will never be realized. The recommendations of the IDS include the following:

1) Articulate gender equality as a human right.

2) Include a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment which incorporates specific targets on gender violence, decent work and employment rights, access to land and assets, education and tackling discrimination.

3) Every post-2015 goal should include at least one relevant target on gender equality in developing countries in order to reflect the multidimensional nature of inequalities and poverty that women and girls experience.

4) Reinforce and complement other relevant frameworks, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

5) Be underpinned by adequate financial resources that have been allocated as part of gender budgeting processes employed by donors and national governments, and to which they can be held accountable.

– Aaron Faust

This article is part of a seven-piece series detailing post-2015 development goals.

Sources: Institute of Development Studies, Witness, Global Protection Cluster, All Africa

Photo: The Guardian

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