Women and Gender Inequality
"The empowerment and autonomy of women, and the improvement of
their political, social, economic and health status, constitute an important
end in themselves and one that is essential for achieving sustainable
development. There should be full participation and partnership of both
women and men in productive and reproductive life, including shared
responsibilities for the care and nurturing of children and maintenance
of the household."
-International Conference on Population and Development, 1994
"Equality between women and men is a matter of human rights
and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental
prerequisite for equality, development and peace."
-Fourth World Cinference om Women, 1995
It is seven years since the Fourth World Conference on Women
noted the "feminization of poverty" and the world's nations pledged
themselves to work for gender equality and social development
as a means of reversing the trend. There is broad formal consensus
that women as well as men have an active interest in economic
and social development, and that they should take part in planning
and implementing strategies for poverty eradication.
Since the Millennium Summit in 2000, concern with ending
poverty has intensified in the international community and the
United Nations system, but there is less systematic effort towards
ending poverty among women.
More women than men live in poverty, and the disparity has
increased over the past decade, particularly in developing
countries. Gender disparities in health (see Chapter 5) and education
(Chapter 7) are wider among the poor, and wider in poor
than in other countries, though the gap has narrowed over the
past 30 years.
Gender disparities persist because social and legal institutions
still do not guarantee women equality in basic legal and human
rights, in access to or control of land or other resources, in
employment and earnings, and social and political participation.
These disparities have serious consequences, not only for women
themselves, but also for their families and for society at large.
One recent study reported, "Gender
biases embedded in institutions, markets and economic
processes remain unaddressed and are reinforced by some
macroeconomic polices and development strategies. Many
women, as a result, become disenfranchized and disempowered."