Four development institutions including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) and the Makerere University, Kampala (MUK), on Wednesday October 27, 2010 in Tunis, jointly launched the Gender and Economic Policy Management Initiative (GEPMI-Africa).
Recent evaluations show that while there has been progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since 2000, progress has been uneven and slow. UNDP’s recent international assessment on “What will it take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?” suggests that while the developing world as a whole remains on track to achieve the poverty reduction target by 2015, an estimated 1.4 billion people were still living in extreme poverty . Moreover, it is estimated that the financial crisis will leave some additional 64 million people in extreme poverty by the end of 2010 relative to a no-crisis scenario. As it has been well established, women constitute the majority of the world population and the majority of the poor.
It has been established that what holds many countries back from achieving the Millennium Development Goals is persistent and pervasive gender inequality. Given gender inequality in access to and over social, economic and political resources control, women and girls are more affected by poverty than men and boys. They also find it difficult to escape from poverty.It has also been established that, where development progress is lagging it is because the needs and status of women and girls are given low priority.
GEMPI-Africa which is launched in the context of the 5th African Economic Conference (AEC) in Tunis between 27 and 29 October 2010 provides an opportunity of engaging key decision makers on the importance of incorporating gender perspectives into economic policy management. Thus drawing from this important gathering of Africa’s economic policy makers, economic researchers, development partners and CSOs, it is a re-launch of Africa’s economic recovery and long-term growth agenda towards poverty eradication through fulfillment of MDGs. Above all, it brings with it, more effective and more efficient value addition to the strategic and synergic partnership between the AfDB and UNDP by expanding and sustaining their commitments and actions towards women’s empowerment and gender equality in Africa’s development.
Gender mainstreaming of development projects is crucial not only for achieving gender equality, but for achieving economic and social development. Missing the third Millenium Development Goal, which is promoting gender equality and empowering women, is so much the worse as ongoing gender inequality hampers achieving the other MDGs. Gender equality is a key component for reducing poverty, child mortality and infectious deseases as well as for increasing school enrolment and maternal health. Reducing gender inequalities in education, employment and income as well as in social and political participation is therefore not only beneficial for women, but for all of society.