Libmonster ID: U.S.-1451
Author(s) of the publication: N. V. GRISHINA
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: Africa, gender inequality, social problems, education, health care

Gender inequality remains a characteristic feature of social development in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In terms of their socio-economic status, different groups of the region's population (in this case, men and women) still have unequal opportunities.

Despite some progress in overcoming differences in the social status of men and women, gender discrimination still affects access to and use of material resources, economic opportunities, and the level of participation in political decision-making (the proportion of "fairer sex" representatives in the parliaments of SSA states reaches approximately 17.5% 1). Meanwhile, the degree of gender equality is one of the main indicators of a country's development.

The problem of relations between the sexes, their psychological differences and value orientations is the subject of research not only by sociologists and psychologists, but also by politicians. On the one hand, the processes of democratization presuppose the formation of equal opportunities for individual self-realization, regardless of social origin, nationality, age and gender. On the other hand, the consciousness of men and women contains stereotypical ideas about their role in public life and various value orientations.

Achieving equality between both sexes in education, access to certain types of employment, and property rights and income could have at least one positive effect: child malnutrition would be reduced by 3%, i.e. there would be 1.7 million fewer hungry children in SSA countries.2 High rates of childhood morbidity and mortality, as well as a low percentage of child immunization, are directly related to the level of education of the mother and her financial situation.

In Africa, where most of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, women perform about 70% of agricultural work. However, their contribution to this area is almost not taken into account in the distribution of income. 3

To get the most accurate information about gender parity in a given country, the Gender Inequality Index is used, which reflects the different levels of access of men and women to health services, "rights and opportunities", as well as to the labor market.

The gender gap is assessed using four indicators::

1. Economic opportunities (getting a high-paying position, salary level).

2. Educational opportunities (access to basic and higher education).

3. Participation in political activities.

4. Health and life expectancy.

In most SSA countries, the Gender Inequality Index ranges from 0.546 to 0.747 on a scale where "1 point" (or 100%) means full equality between the sexes, and "0" (or 0%) means maximum inequality. During the seven years (2006-2012) during which the Gender Inequality Index was calculated, its highest rates were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa: Chad (0.5594), Ivory Coast (0.5785), Morocco (0.5833), Mali (0.5842) and Egypt (0.5975)4. The highest levels of gender inequality in health care, as of 2012, were observed in Mauritius, Lesotho, Gambia, Uganda, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Côte d'Ivoire, and in education in Botswana and Lesotho. 5

As of 2011, the share of unpaid female labor in Tropical Africa reached 20.1%, self-employment -39.2%, and female employees-40.7%. Tropical Africa is the only region in the world where the proportion of women working for free has not decreased, but even increased by 3.6% during the 2000s.6

Traditionally, women are responsible for domestic work, as well as caring for children and family members in need, which significantly restricts their access to self-employment.

In such a situation, the State's financial support for women would play an important role, which in turn would mean assistance to their families.7 According to World Bank experts, "economic policies that prioritize the role of women and their interests in protecting the well-being of children can significantly mitigate the effects of economic crises." 8

Meanwhile, eliminating the gene-

page 54

Such an increase in gender inequality could lead to real economic benefits. Thus, equal access to agricultural inputs would increase maize yields by 11-16% in Malawi, 17% in Ghana, and 6% in total household agricultural output in Burkina Faso.9

In general, experts from the UN Food and Agriculture Programme estimate that providing women farmers with equal access to productive resources could increase agricultural output in developing countries by at least 2.5-4% .10

Removing barriers that prevent women from working in certain sectors of the economy could reduce the productivity gap between men and women by 30-50% and increase output per employee by 25%.11

Women who have lost their financial independence due to job losses or reduced incomes are often victims of" trafficking " - the removal of women, girls and children abroad for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This contributes to the spread of AIDS, which is especially dangerous for low-and middle-income countries, where the incidence rate is already high, and hinders the implementation of one of the "Millennium Development Goals" (MDG-6) to combat HIV and other diseases. So far, the probability of death during pregnancy or childbirth for one woman in SSA states is 1:16, compared to 1:3800 in developed countries12.

One of the most effective tools for achieving equal opportunities for men and women is education, which forms social potential and expands freedom of choice, promotes self-esteem and allows you to find a decent job, participate in political life, and make demands on the government regarding the rights to health care, social security, etc. 13

However, in countries with the lowest rates of education for women and high child mortality (Chad, Central African Republic, Mali, Niger), girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school due to the inability of their families to cope with financial difficulties.14 This significantly affects not only the implementation of MDG-3 (overcoming gender inequality in education), but also negatively affects the implementation of MDG-4 (improving children's health) and MDG-5 (maternal health).15. Practices that perpetuate gender inequality, early marriage, and persist in the low social status of women and girls exacerbate the impact of gender discrimination on society as a whole.

A World Bank report highlights trends in increasing gender inequality, increasing child mortality, and reducing women's access to education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia .16

Most out-of-school children are girls. This is because in developing countries, including those in Africa, they are often taken out of school to help mothers manage the household and care for younger family members. The training of daughters can be interrupted by their fathers, who believe that the time has come for marriage. Or the family does not have enough funds for the education of two or more children, and preference is given to sons 17.

Early marriage and, as a result, childbirth during adolescence are dangerous for the health of the mother and child and usually serve as an obstacle to school attendance by young women. Such situations are not uncommon in Africa, and the vast majority of such women are doomed to low-skilled jobs because of their lack of literacy.

Social studies have shown that girls ' education is a key factor not only in personal development, but also in the elimination of poverty. Girls who finish school and don't get married early are more likely to have fewer children and maintain better health. By earning more than illiterate women, they are likely to provide educational opportunities for their daughters.18

The low level of education among women is one of the causes of gender inequality, for example, in Mali. Girls here are much less likely than boys to attend primary school. Only 25% of women over the age of 15 can read and write. In Ivory Coast, 11% of men and 6% of women have a university degree. The reason for the illiteracy of a large part of the population in Chad is the low participation of girls in the educational process: almost 75% of pre-adolescent boys and just over 50% of girls are enrolled in primary school. Most female students leave school without completing secondary education for various reasons (unwillingness to study, early marriage, or parental prohibition); only 5% of young women enter higher education institutions.19

The economic crisis of the 2000s led developed countries to reduce their investment in MDG programs (in 2011, financial assistance to developing Countries decreased by 3%). Due to the global financial crisis, measures to reduce maternal mortality were significantly underfunded.20 The potential impact of the crisis on the global economy was not taken into account when planning the MDGs, and this prevented many African countries from fulfilling their commitments. All this has a serious negative impact on the implementation of the MDGs by the planned date of 2015.

Currently, there are many international organizations that advocate for the elimination of gender inequality. One of them is the GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa, which actively fights for women's rights on the continent, for taking measures against the spread of HIV infection, and for protecting sexual and reproductive health21.

The results of sociological studies show that the achievement of gender equality could be promoted by the destruction of the system of traditional male dominance in the field of employment, the reduction of discrimination against women, and the elimination of discrimination against women.-

page 55

by creating competitive labor markets.

Gender inequality, like any other, not only slows down development, but also entails significant social and political costs. Therefore, in many developed countries (in Africa - in South Africa), this problem is taken into account when forming the state budget, which allows for more efficient use of available human resources.


Kopysov E. 2 Gendernoe neravnoshenie na sovremennom etape razvitiya obshchestva [Gender inequality at the present stage of society development]. December 1, 2013 -


Sakevich V. 4 Are there any countries in the world that have overcome gender inequality? // Demoscope Weekly. N 563-564. August 19-September 1, 2013

Hausmann R 5., Laura D., Tyson S.Z. The Global Gender Gap Report 2012. World Economic Forum, 2012.

6 African labour market - index. php?page-cat&newsid-1176&type-news

Hemes H. 7 Welfare State and Woman Power. Oslo, 1987. P. 26 - 45.

8 Impact of the global economic crisis on women, girls and gender equality. UNAIDS, 2012.

9 gender-equality-right-smart-thing-world-bank-report

10 Ibidem.

11 Ibid.


Cleland J. 13 Education and Future Fertility Trends with Special

Reference to Mid-Transitional Countries. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. N.Y., 2002.

Matsenko I. B. 14 The least developed countries: Development prospects / / Asia and Africa today. 2014, N 7, с. 42 - 43 (Matsenko LB. 2014. Naimenee razvitye strany: perspektivy razvitiya // Aziya i Afrika Segodnya. N 7) (in Russian)

Matsenko I. B. 15 Africa: Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals / / Asia and Africa Today. 2014, N 10, с. 19 (Matsenko I.B. 2014. Africa: realizatsiya "Tselei razvitiya tisyacheletiya" // Aziya i Afrika Segodnya. N 10) (in Russian)

16 Gender equality and development. World Development Report. 2012 г. -

17 EFA World Monitoring Report. Education for all. Reach the underprivileged. UNESCO, 2010.

18 Examples of gender inequality around the world -

19 Countries that are unfair to women. 4.11.2013 -




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