Gender gap costs sub-Saharan Africa $95bn annually —UNDP

Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $95 billion a year, peaking at $105 billion in 2014, or six   of the region’s GDP, jeopardising the continent’s efforts for inclusive human development and economic growth, according to the Africa Human Development Report 2016.

Tagged  ‘Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa,’ the report was published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“If gender gaps can be closed in labour markets, education, health, and other areas, then poverty and hunger eradication can be accelerated,” UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, said at the launch on Monday.

According to her, achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is the right thing to do, and is a development imperative.

The UNDP report analyses the political, economic and social drivers that hamper African women’s advancement and proposes policies and concrete actions to close the gender gap. These include addressing the contradiction between legal provisions and practice in gender laws; breaking down harmful social norms and transforming discriminatory institutional settings; and securing women’s economic, social and political participation.

Deeply-rooted structural obstacles such as unequal distribution of resources, power and wealth, combined with social institutions and norms that sustain inequality are holding African women, and the rest of the continent, back.

The report estimates that a one per cent increase in gender inequality reduces a country’s human development index by 0.75 per cent.

While the continent is rapidly closing the gender gap in primary education enrolment, African women achieve only 87 per cent of the human development outcomes of men, driven mainly by lower levels of female secondary attainment, lower female labor force participation and high maternal mortality.