REPORT: Young and female - a double strike? Gender analysis of school-to-work transition surveys in 32 developing countries, January 2016
Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment remain one of the most pressing challenges of inclusive growth and sustainable development. Gender equality has intrinsic value as an essential aspect of human dignity and social justice. The earlier its premises are instilled at the household and individual levels, the more powerful they become in enabling young women to take advantage of a wider range of opportunities to fulfill their goals and aspirations. Empowering young women as economic, political and social actors then pushes institutions to be more representative, which can further catalyse positive policy changes for a more inclusive development (Revenga and Shetty, 2012).
Over recent years, a wealth of studies and research has shown that enhancing gender equality, particularly through increased levels of female education, is beneficial to individual women in terms of greater decision-making power and autonomy in the household, reduced fertility and higher household income, while also contributing by a more circuitous path to wider development goals. One example of such linkages is the transmission of gains in educational access and higher income for women into the higher nutritional and educational status of their children. Research has also shown that such linkages are less apparent when the additional income gains goes to men.
Evidence also exists to demonstrate how gender equality boosts productivity and economic growth, primarily via more effective utilization of the full array of human productive potential, i.e. that of men and women. The “smart economics” position sees equality in instrumentalist terms – as a means to achieve other goals, including poverty eradication. As an example, Aguirre et al. (2012) claims that raising female employment to male levels could have a direct impact on GDP, increasing it by 34 per cent in Egypt, 12 per cent in the United Arab Emirates, 10 per cent in South Arica and 9 per cent in Japan. From the sectoral perspective, historical experience has already shown the importance of female labour to the process of industrialization. The East Asian “Tigers” benefited greatly from female-dominated manufacturing in the export sector. Agricultural production would be boosted as well; FAO (2011) estimates that agricultural output in developing countries could increase by as much as 2.5 to 4 per cent if female farmers had the same access as men to productive resources such as land and fertilizers.
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