Unit 4 Macro: Development Goals - Gender equality and empowerment

The Millennium Development Goals include ambitious targets on gender equality and female empowerment. Here are two examples of targets designed to be met by 2015.

Target: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Target: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

Some progress has been made - two examples are shown below - but there remains an enormous gap in gender equality across the majority of countries - and this harms growth and development as the World Bank argues:

"In recent decades, women's and girls' education and health levels have improved greatly. But in many parts of the world, women are still dying in childbirth, or not being born at all, at alarming rates. Women continue to lack voice and decision-making ability in the household and in society; and, their economic opportunities remain very constrained. This inequality is manifestly unfair. It is also bad economics: under-investing in girls and women puts a brake on poverty reduction and limits economic and social development." Find out more here: 

  1. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament (percent) - now there are 8,716 women parliamentarians globally, which is 19.25% of the total number of MPs
  2. Ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education (percent) - The ratio between the enrolment rate of girls and that of boys grew from 91 in 1999 to 97 in 2010 for all developing regions

Gender parity index for enrolment in different stages of education

(Data is for 2010), Girls per 100 boys

Developed Regions

Developing Regions

Primary Education



Secondary Education



Tertiary Education



Some of the factors affecting gender disparities in secondary school enrolment rates

  1. Discrimination / social norms within the family
  2. Cost of schooling
  3. Effects of early marriage
  4. Information failures
  5. Worries over security in getting to and from school
Video Resources:

Women's rights in Bangladesh

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