Putting women in their right place

Has gender equality improved since International Women’s Day was first launched a century ago? The answers heard during this year’s global events on 8 March were mixed. Yes, progress has been made, but discrimination continues everywhere, which not only harms women but holds back society’s potential too.

Take development. Promoting gender equality and empowering women is the third of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, but as the Atlas of Gender and Development: How Social Norms Affect Gender Equality in non-OECD Countries shows, gender discrimination still spans the world. Many studies, including at the OECD, measure women’s progress in terms of, say, how many women attend secondary school or university, or how many are members of parliament. This book takes a different approach, focusing on 124 developing countries to see how fundamental social institutions, including family codes, the right to freedom of movement and dress, and access to land, property and credit, determine women’s progress–or lack thereof–in society.

The OECD, which developed these indicators of gender equality together with a research team from Göttingen University, has also published a series of studies on donor aid targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment, called Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. The studies present charts, graphs and detailed financial information for each member country of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee.

Gender and Sustainable Development: Maximising the Economic, Social and Environmental Role of Women, meanwhile, focuses on the crucial wider role of women in securing the future of our world. And the OECD Development Centre’s Wikigender project aims to gather and disseminate information on gender equality through an interactive website, www.wikigender.org.

Gender is frequently covered by the OECD Observer, with issues such as development and discrimination, international migration, labour, education and most recently, entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa (see No 275, November 2009 and see www.oecdobserver.org/gender).

Atlas of Gender and Development: How Social Norms Affect Gender Equality in non-OECD Countries, ISBN 978-92-64-07520-7

Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, available at www.oecd.org/dac/gender 

Gender and Sustainable Development: Maximising the Economic, Social and Environmental Role of Women, ISBN 978-92-64-04990-1

Visit www.oecd.org/gender  

©OECD Observer No 278 March 2010


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