UNFPAState of World Population 2002
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HOME: STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2002: Women and Gender Inequality
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Women and Gender Inequality

Overview
Measuring Gender Inequality
Economic Inequity
HIV, Poverty and Gender Inequality

Overview

"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." (1)

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