Gender equity starts at the dinner table

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Adolescent girls are the most at risk of not being able to access a nutritious diet. Ensuring they do is key to economic development, peace and stability


By David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


girls-eatingImagine a family sitting down for a meal – a father, a mother who’s nursing a little baby, a school-aged boy and an adolescent girl. Who has the most on their dinner plate? Maybe Dad, since he’s the biggest and has a physically demanding job. Then the boy – I had two of them and sometimes it was amazing how much they could eat. Then after that, the two slimmest: Mom and daughter, right?

But this so-called cultural norm is exactly the opposite of what ought to happen, and that’s why a new focus on the nutrition needs of adolescent girls could make a big impact on the future of so many developing nations around the world.

Adolescent girls, even more than boys, require the most nutritious diet possible, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, along with meat, fish and dairy to give them the key vitamins and minerals that help them to grow. Unfortunately, in far too many areas, the needs of adolescent girls are rarely prioritised. Continue reading

It’s (literally) about time: men as part of the solution to closing the care gap

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By Ruti Levtov, PhD, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Learning at Promundo-US


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


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Photo: Sarine Arslanian / Shutterstock.com

Two hundred and ten years: That’s how long it will take to close the gender gap in time spent on care if we continue on our current trajectory, according to recent analysis by the International Labour Organization (ILO). In no country in the world do men and women spend an equal amount of time on care responsibilities, an inequality that restricts women’s participation and growth in the labour force, in political leadership and in other public spheres. It also limits the space for men to express their full humanity as nurturers, caregivers and equal partners at home. To achieve global development goals, to fulfill human rights and to enable all of us to live full lives, we need to urgently address this inequality.

It won’t be an easy road – the barriers are many to recognising, reducing and – as is the focus of this blog – redistributing care. While redistributing unpaid care responsibilities between individuals and the state is essential, we know that gender stereotypes held by individuals, communities, workplaces and governments continue to presume that women’s most important contributions are at home, and men’s are in the workplace. At Promundo, we are focusing on how we can deconstruct these stereotypes. Continue reading

Can we leave no one behind in a world so unequal?

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By Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International


To read more about this topic, check out the upcoming release
of the
Development Co-operation Report 2018: Joining Forces to Leave No One Behind on 11 December 2018


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The author, Winnie Byanyima, embraces a member of a women’s group within the POC (Protection of Civilian site) in Malakal, South Sudan. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder / Oxfam

To say that the world’s poorest people are simply being left behind can sound like an unbearably polite understatement at times, designed not to offend the rich and the powerful.

I think of the girls I grew up with in Uganda who have worked hard all their life, paid their taxes and supported their communities, only to see themselves and their children remain poor, without essential services. I think of women in poverty like Dolores, who works in a chicken factory in the United States. She and her co-workers wear diapers because their employer denies them toilet breaks (Oxfam, 20161).

These women aren’t just left behind but trapped and exploited at the bottom of a global economy.
Continue reading

Technological change raises the stakes for action to leave no one behind

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By Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator


To read more about this topic, check out the upcoming release
of the
Development Co-operation Report 2018: Joining Forces to Leave No One Behind on 11 December 2018


growth-technology-people.jpgThe 2030 Agenda presents a historic opportunity to set the world on track to a sustainable future. In twelve years’ time, a litmus test for its success will be: have we made good on the promise to ‘leave no one behind’? The answer will depend, in some measure, on our responses to the fourth industrial revolution.

The speed and ubiquity of technological change offers unparalleled opportunities for sustainable development, but it also comes with the risk of rising inequalities within and between countries. It is up to policy makers to leverage this transformation for good, and to mitigate their risks.

Artificial intelligence can improve the quality and reach of health care with half of the world’s population still not having access to essential health services. Digital technologies can boost agricultural productivity. Satellite imagery can help combat deforestation. Big data analytics can identify needs and help track progress in real time. Drones can deliver essential supplies. And digital finance can enable new models to deliver basic services. Continue reading

Measuring beyond outcomes: Understanding gender inequality

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By Papa A. Seck (@PABSeck), Chief Statistician, UN Women


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


burkina-faso-sigi-papa-e1544171190150.jpgOver her lifetime, a girl born today in Germany is expected to earn just about half the income of a boy born on the same day. In France and Sweden, she fares slightly better at about 70%. In Turkey, she can expect to earn no more than a quarter.1 Globally, it is estimated that 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. This is the most egregious violation of women’s rights and it is pervasive in all countries around the world, developed and developing alike. Such violence has often tragic consequences. A recent study by UNODC found that a shocking six women are killed every hour by a family member.2 An estimated 650 million women and girls in the world today were married before age 18, and at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the 30 countries with representative data on its prevalence. Women around the world do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do, simply because that task is delegated to them by our societies. Continue reading

Equipping development co-operation to leave no one behind

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By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate


To read more about this topic, check out the upcoming release of the
Development Co-operation Report 2018: Joining Forces to Leave No One Behind
on 11 December 2018


dev-cooperation-puzzle-handLeaving no one behind is a radically new level of ambition for governments and societies worldwide, for it implies that the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if they deliver results for everyone and especially the furthest behind. By embracing the pledge in 2015 to leave no one behind, United Nations member states signed up to and entered a new era: one bound by the commitment to universal, equitable and sustainable development for all. Delivering on this agenda will require fundamental refocus and reform of systems, institutions and policies, from the global to the local levels.

Delivering on this central promise of the 2030 Agenda means lifting at least 730 million people out of extreme poverty – those who despite two decades of strong economic growth remain trapped in poverty, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and in fragile contexts. It also means addressing inequalities, discriminations and fragilities. According to the World Inequality Lab, inequalities leave less than 9% of global income to the poorest 50% of the world’s people. Intersecting discriminations and disadvantages afflict women and girls, minority groups and vulnerable populations around the world. An estimated 27% of humanity is expected to live in fragile contexts by 2030 due to the borderless reach of conflict, forced displacement, pandemics, violent extremism, famine and natural disasters. Time may already be running out: in some areas we are actually backsliding – for example, 40 million more people went undernourished between 2014 and 2017.

Continue reading

What it will take to unleash real feminism

Sigi-banner-for-blogBy Bathylle Missika, Head – Networks, Partnerships and Gender Division, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


SIGI-feminism.jpgGender equality frequently makes headlines. Even before the #metoo movements, political leaders started to place gender equality at the top of their agendas. Beyond OECD countries, the G20, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as well as the African Union’s 2063 Agenda made achieving gender equality a priority.

Yet, translating these political commitments into durable changes for women and girls is far more difficult. Progress has been limited. When it comes to universal access to reproductive health, for example, which has been on the global policy radar since the Millennium Development Goals, 12% of women who do not want children still do not have access to contraception; that rate doubles to 24% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, eliminating girl child marriage is at centre of various regional and international conventions, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; yet each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. That is 23 girls every minute.

So if political will is real and genuine, why are we still falling short? Continue reading