Edited by Deborah M. Figart and Tonia L. Warnecke
Chapter 24: Measuring gender disparities in human development
Gender equity is an intrinsic dimension of human development. There is much country-level evidence showing how investments in women and girls can be a vehicle to promote long-term prospects for growth and human development (see Permanyer, 2009). Further, equity is enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the ‘promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women’ is the third Millennium Development Goal. In addition, several major international agreements have urged governments to take steps to ensure that both women and men enjoy equal rights, opportunities, and responsibilities, such as the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategy for Advancement of Women (in 1985) and the Beijing Platform for Action (in 1995).Yet global, regional and national reports have investigated and exposed key dimensions of gender disparities. The influential 1995 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) global Human Development Report (HDR) on gender highlighted areas of progress, but also noted that women still outnumbered men two-to-one in terms of illiteracy, and girls constituted around 60 percent of those without access to primary school. Globally, women and girls still fare badly on important fronts. Their labor force participation rate continues to hover around 51 percent compared with around 83 percent for males.
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