The Gender Gap: Two Years Ago the United Nations Set an Impressive Array of Targets Aimed at Banishing Gender Equality Globally by 2030. Recent Research Reveals Shocking Data about How Far We Are from Achieving Those Goals and Highlights the Economic Benefits That Could Be Unleashed If the Targets Were Met

By Rowe, Mark | Geographical, November 2017 | Go to article overview

The Gender Gap: Two Years Ago the United Nations Set an Impressive Array of Targets Aimed at Banishing Gender Equality Globally by 2030. Recent Research Reveals Shocking Data about How Far We Are from Achieving Those Goals and Highlights the Economic Benefits That Could Be Unleashed If the Targets Were Met


Rowe, Mark, Geographical


Well into the second decade of the 21st century some of the great prejudices of humanity are still alive and still kicking. They include not only racism and homophobia, but the prejudice that affects half of humanity--gender inequality. As Nikki van der Gaag, Director of Women's Rights & Gender Justice at Oxfam GB puts it: 'Gender inequality is the oldest inequality there is. Gender equality is a basic human right, you shouldn't be discriminated against on gender any more than you should on sexuality or race.'

The good news is that global commitment to the human right of gender equality has never been stronger. In 2015, the United Nations made the elimination of inequality of women by 2030 one of its key goals, the first time in history such a concrete deadline had been set. In another move designed to improve matters by providing benchmarks, the UN this October launched a global index of gender equality, drawing on 153 countries, using the three key indicators of inclusion, justice and security.

MONEY TALKS

Economically, gender equality is a no-brainer: it leads to higher income per capita, faster economic growth and stronger national competitiveness. While the link between gender equality and development was always understood as self-evident, several UN reports now empirically show the strong relationship between a country's human development and its level of gender inequality. Research by the consultants McKinsey suggests that achieving gender equality would add $12trillion to global growth.

'Ten years ago some feminists and progressives would say the link was there but others would say it wasn't true, that there wasn't the hard data to support it,' says Dr Jeni Klugman, co-author of Leave No-One Behind, a report commissioned by the UN's High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment. 'We have better data and evidence now.'

Women's economic empowerment yields human development gains, enabling greater autonomy and choice for women and boosting investment in children. Increasing the share of household income controlled by women has shown that it tends to increase spending on children's education and health. In terms of benefits for the economy, lower levels of gender inequality are associated with gains in terms of income, economic growth and national competitiveness. At the other end of the spectrum, the cost of domestic violence has been put at more than $4.4trillion or 5.2 per cent of global GDP, according to the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

'There is also a human development argument,' says van der Gaag. 'If you ignore up to 50 per cent of the world's population it will have a huge affect on society. You lose the skills, expertise and knowledge of millions of people.'

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), eliminating gender inequality and empowering women on that continent could raise the productive potential of one billion Africans. 'Empowering women economically is not only the right thing to do to honour the world's commitment to human rights--it is also the smart thing to do for development, economic growth and business,' says Klugman. 'The economic and human development costs of gender gaps are enormous, as are the potential gains from closing them.'

SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS

Just as there is an increasing amount of data to show the benefits of gender equality, there is also no shortage of reporting illustrating the shocking current state of affairs. In many parts of the developing world women are effectively second-class citizens when it comes to health, education, child marriage, sexual consent, employment and political representation. They work longer for less pay, carry out more unpaid work than men and are more vulnerable to climate change.

The World Economic Forum has said at current rates of improvement it would take 170 years for women to enjoy the same rates of pay and work opportunities as men. …

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The Gender Gap: Two Years Ago the United Nations Set an Impressive Array of Targets Aimed at Banishing Gender Equality Globally by 2030. Recent Research Reveals Shocking Data about How Far We Are from Achieving Those Goals and Highlights the Economic Benefits That Could Be Unleashed If the Targets Were Met
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