Engendering global development

Engendering global development DESPITE all efforts to marginalise the chasm between the genders, the Human Development Report (hdr), 1995, has documented gender disparities still existing in the world. Prepared against the backdrop of the Fourth World Conference on Women which began in Beijing in early September, the report specifies that human development needs to be engendered.

The 4 critical elements of human development -- productivity, equity, sustainability and empowerment -- demand that gender issues be addressed as development issues, and as human rights concerns. "The compelling reason: development, if not engendered, is endangered," notes the report, which has been prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (undp) released on August 17.

The hdr has used the gender-related development index (gdi) and the gender empowerment measure (gem) respectively, to measure a country's total achievements noting the inequality in achievements between men and women, and to examine whether men and women are able to participate in economic, political and decision-making activities.

The report reveals that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, approved by the un in 1979, fell flat miserably: 41 un member states had not signed the convention, 6 signed without ratification, and 43 countries ratified the convention -- but with reservations.

The absence of, and under-evaluation of the economic contribution by women amounted to more than 70 per cent of the world's total economic output -- us $16 trillion -- of a possible us $23 trillion, says the report.

The report states that women's share in work is 53 per cent in developing and 51 per cent in industrialised countries, and that the work had almost no economic valuation.

The North -- where the share of women's participation in professional and technical jobs is 62 per cent -- has the best track record in this context. In important world fora, women are underrepresented: of the 185 permanent representatives to the un in December 1994, only 6 were women.

The report adds that the combined female primary and secondary enrolment in the developing world jumped from 38 per cent in 1970, to 68 per cent in 1992. Interestingly, the Arab states have made the fastest progress in women's education by more than doubling women's literacy rate during 1970-90.

After the report had bbeen released, the chief architect of the report, Mahbub-Ul-Haq, former finance and planning minister of Pakistan, and special advisor to the undp administrator J G Speth, stated that the World Bank should finance social programmes as well, as most of their developmental projects faced infrastructure-related problems, and not gender issues.

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