Areas for action
Education: Investments in girls' education are generally acknowledged as the single-most important catalyst for poverty reduction and development. Basic education for all boys and girls is a goal that can be advanced through the empowerment of women, training teachers to be gender sensitive, promoting the value of educating girls, making schools safe, postponing early marriage and childbearing, allowing pregnant teens to continue studying, providing scholarships, providing universal access to reproductive health, and lowering fertility, morbidity and mortality rates.
Economic opportunity: Removing barriers to women's equal participation in the workforce and economic life opens up opportunities for women to earn more income, which benefits women, their families and ultimately their countries. Women who can plan and space their children are better able to participate in economic activities. Productivity increases when girls and women have access to resources, such as land and financial credit, and to higher education levels and formal employment.
Reproductive health and rights: Reproductive health and rights such as the right to decide on the number, timing and spacing of children are central to women's empowerment and gender equality, and to women's enjoyment of other human rights, including the rights to education, health and full participation in political, economic, social and cultural life. Reproductive health problems, which are often preventable, can place a heavy burden on health, quality of life and productivity. Inequality is tied to high rates of death in pregnancy and childbirth, harmful traditional practices and disabilities such as obstetric fistula. HIV/AIDS is accelerated by inequality, when women lack the power to refuse sex or negotiate safer sex. For girls, early marriage and childbearing can mean an incomplete education, limited opportunities and serious health risks.
Participation: The right of women to participate in political life is fundamental to equality. One of many reasons to increase women's participation is the need to include the perspectives of both women and men if development efforts are to succeed. Women must be empowered to participate fully in the decision-making processes of politics and of development. Gender violence limits women's participation in society, restricting women and girls from achieving their full potential.