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Gender’s development dimension

Could action on gender help jumpstart efforts to make the Millennium Development Goals deadline by 2015? The third goal already explicitly aims to “promote gender equality and empower women” (MDG3), but gender has a direct and profound impact on several other targets, too.

According to the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions Gender Index, the variables include violence against women, acceptance of polygamy and women’s ownership rights, with 12 indicators in total.

The Index shows that countries in which societies strongly discriminate against women tend to score poorly in several of the Millennium Development Goals.

Take education. Countries where over 45% of women below 19 are married have a low completion rate of primary education. This undermines MDG2: Achieve universal primary education.

Countries where women are denied access to land or to credit don’t do well in MDG1: Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. Where women lack any access to credit, the number of malnourished children is 85% above average. Where women lack any right to own land, they have on average 60% more malnourished children.

And countries which tolerate physical violence against women are not on track to reach MDG5: Improve maternal health. Other MDG indicators, such as children mortality, HIV prevalence or access to drinking water, are also impacted by gender.

See Social Institutions Gender Index: http://genderindex.org

©OECD Yearbook 2011