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Gender Inequality: Consequences and Implications in the Developing World and Beyond.

Gender Inequality: Consequences and Implications in the Developing World and Beyond.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sadhbh OBrien. Originally submitted for Economics of Less Developed Countries at Trinity College, Dublin, with lecturer Michael Wycherley in the category of Business & Economics
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sadhbh OBrien. Originally submitted for Economics of Less Developed Countries at Trinity College, Dublin, with lecturer Michael Wycherley in the category of Business & Economics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
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12/05/2013

 
 Introduction
Human development, as described by the Human Development Report, is the process of expanding choices for
all
people. The very essence of development is undermined by the evilof gender inequality, which excludes women from the economic, political and social benefitsof society. Inequality has many manifestations, but gender inequality is especially prevalent.
“W
ithin every community, nationality, and class, the burden of hardship often falls
disproportionately on women” (Sen, 2001). The ubiquity of gender inequality and its
consequences to society and development call for concern.
 A Diverse Problem
The study of gender inequality is complicated by its multi-
faceted nature. “Given the manyfaces of gender inequality, much depends on which face we look at” (Sen, 2001). Sen
identifies seven strains of gender inequality (Table 1), which provide a narrower framework for studying inequality trends and developing targeted solutions. Some forms of inequalityare predominantly features of less developed countries (LDCs) (mortality, natality), while
many extend to even the world’s richest regions (special opportunities inequ
ality).
Table 1: Sen’s(2001) sev
en types of inequality and Franc
isco’s (2010) chosen appropriate indicators
 for assessing the level of inequality.
A further challenge in the study of gender inequality is the range of explanatory variables.The variables themselves are diverse, and also the impacts they have from country to country
 
(or even region to region) according to government structure, heritage and culture, andreligion. For instance, democracy is likely to create more favourable conditions for genderequality (Beer, 2009). Demographic can also diverge gender equality levels within countries;there is more acceptance of gender inequality in poorer demographics (Global Gender GapIndex, 2010), so poorer women are less likely to realise their comparative situation or revoltagainst it. The distinct variations in the type, magnitude and relative consequences of genderinequality means it has no homogeneous policy solution.
 A Universal Problem
It is naive and unjust to dismiss gender inequality as a problem confined to LDCs. The truthis far from this. Statistics show that the estimated earnings of women across the HumanDevelopment Index (HDI) scale are systematically lower than those of men (Figure 1). The
World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index incorporates political empowerment,
economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, and health and survival intoits measurement of gender inequality (Horowitz and Wike, 2010). Figure 2 depicts thecorrelation between these indices and HDI rankings. The result supports the hypothesis thatgender equality, in its full form, exists at all levels of development.Japan, for example, ranks tenth on the HDI scale, but only 94
th
on the Gender Gap Indexscale. Whereas Mozambique ranks 175
th
on the HDI scale, yet forges ahead with a ranking of 22 on the Gender Gap Index scale. In addition to this statistical evidence, opinion studiesprovide the same result. According to a Pew Global Attitudes Survey, wealthy nations, morethan poorer nations, claim men receive more job opportunities than equally qualified womenand enjoy a better life generally in their countries (Horowitz and Wike, 2010). Even in the topranking Nordic countries there is still some degree of gender bias. In a UN survey, almost 10
 percent of Swedes agreed that “a man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to
take care of 
the home and family” (Mortvik and Spant, 2005).
The majority of countries surveyed by Pew have a positive attitude towards equality, but onlywhen it does not impinge on male welfare. In poor economic conditions, the majority of countries believe men are more deserving of work (Horowitz and Wike, 2010). Gender biasesare deep-
rooted in culture. The “otherness” of women is constructed, a product of “culturenot biology” (Mazurkiewicz, 2009). As culture is inherited, it will take time to erode
genderbiases and replace this conditional equality with a truer appreciation of gender equality.
 
 
 
Figure 1: HDI rankings plotted against income levels (USD) (statistics sourced from uis.unesco.org)Figure 2: HDI Rankings plotted against Global Gender Gap Index Rankings (statistics sourced fromThe Global Gender Gap Index Report 2010)
Consequences of Gender Inequality for LDCs
Gender inequality is thought to have economic disadvantages, as well as psychological,sociological and religious impacts. The disadvantages of gender inequality are particularly
020,00040,00060,00080,000100,000120,000050100150200250
   I   n   c   o   m   e   L   e   v   e    l
HDI Ranking (Zero = Highest)
Income Levels versus HDI Ranking
Estimate Income Earned FemaleEstimate Income Earned Male
0204060801001201401600 50 100 150 200
   G   e   n    d   e   r   G   a   p   I   n    d   e   x   R   a   n    k   i   n   g   s    (   1  =   B   e   s   t    )
HDI Ranking (0=Highest)

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