Gender Equality – THE cross-cutting issue for development

The World Bank tackles the goal of bringing a gender perspective to the analysis and design of development policies.

Development objectives like reducing poverty and hunger, improving children’s access to education and health, reducing child and maternal mortality and combating diseases like HIV/AIDS are closely linked to gender equality.

Most development goals can be achieved when serious efforts are made to increase women’s education, employment, income and intra-household decision making power. Gender equality thus emerges as key factor for progress in society.

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International organisations are increasingly aware of this fact. The World Bank, for example, has announced that the 2012 World Development Report will focus on gender equality and development. The report will look at facts and trends regarding the various dimensions of gender equality in the context of the development process. It will argue first that gender equality is a core development issue—a primary objective of development in its own right.

The report’s key dimensions of gender equality include women’s and men’s endowments of human and physical capital, their access to economic opportunities and their ability to shape their lives. The report will show that although many women around the world still continue to struggle with gender-based disadvantages, much has changed for the better and at a much more rapid pace than ever before. But the report will also show that progress needs to be expanded, protected and deepened. In order to understand why the pace of progress has varied across different dimensions of gender equality as well as between countries, the report will look at how markets, formal institutions such as laws, and informal social institutions, such as norms, interact and influence household decision-making.

Besides analysing the causes and consequences of gender inequality, the report will also discuss ideas about how to provide incentives, how to shape preferences and how to impose constraints in order to promote gender inequality.

Some analytical work that has been done for the report is already available on the World Bank’s website:

World Bank World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development

The graph below illustrates that mortality and infant mortality are highly interconnected:

               Image source: WB WDR

As soon as medical progress allows infant mortality to decline, fertility also declines on a drastic scale.  The time-lagged reaction of fertility to changes in mortality leads to a natural increase in population size. Population growth, which is caused by fertility decreases occurring time-delayed to mortality decreases, can be observed in most emerging countries – a phenomenon which refers to the “Demographic Transition Theory”.  Population size becomes stable as soon as mortality and fertility rates stagnate on a relatively low level. Investing in a better access for women and children to medical care thus emerges as a key parameter for development.

Source: Blog author’s own contribution, WB WDR 2012

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