Gender discrimination uncovered

OECD Development Centre database charts discrimination against women in developing countries.
OECD Observer

Gender equality has come a long way since International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Europe in 8 March 1911. But while there is reason to celebrate, there is also far more to be done. The Gender, Institutions and Development Database (GID), a new OECD database (see link below), can help point the way forward. It shows deeply rooted social norms and traditions continue to harm women’s economic opportunities in many countries around the world.

Practices that discriminate against women, from forced marriages and genital mutilation to restrictions on inheritance and ownership rights, stand in the way of gender equality and economic development. Thanks to the likes of the GID, we are only just coming to grips with the scale of female discrimination, which is not just morally indefensible, but economically and socially wasteful, too.

More funding for development will be effective only if the causes of discrimination are dealt with. Shiny new classrooms, for example, will remain empty as girls are simply not allowed to go to school.

The new database, from the OECD Development Centre, is compiled from various sources, and gives comparable data on the socio-economic status of women for 162 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. By identifying cultural and traditional practices that discriminate against women, it highlights the need for institutional and legal reforms and the kinds of coherent, sensitive and inclusive strategies that can help to remove the blight of discrimination for good.

For further comment, please contact Johannes.Jütting@oecd.org in the OECD Development Centre or telephone France, +33 1 4524 8725.

OECD Observer articles on gender issues

©OECD Observer February 2006




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