Women in Comparative Societies
Introductory Lecture

Reading:  Sections 1 and 2 of Progress of the World's Women 2002 by UNIFEM

Main themes of the Chapter:  Progress, Millenium Development GoalsHow to Measure Gender Equality/Women’s Empowerment  

Begins with the notion of “progress” a loaded term, very Western in its connotations, especially as traditionally defined

What is your notion of women’s progress????

afghan girls in school

Millenium Declaration - signed by 189 countries in 2000

Millenium Development Goals
    1. eradiate exterme poverty and hunger
    2. achieve universal primary education
    3. promote gender equality and empower women
    4. reduce child mortality
    5. improve maternal health
    6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, other diseases
    7. ensure environmental sustainability
    8. develop a global partnership for development

Why is gender equality and women's empowerment important in meeting all the other goals?

Study after study has shown that there is
no effective development strategy
in which women do not play a central role. 
When women are fully involved, the benefits can be seen immediately: 
families are healthier and better fed;
their income, savings and reinvestment so up. 
And what is true of families is also true of communities
and, in the long run, of whole countries.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
March 8, 2003


How do we measure gender equality, women's empowerment?

What kinds of data are most often used to assess progress toward these goals?

these are controversial, culturally derived, culturally variable

Progress on Goals 3 and 4

Progress on Goals 5 and 6

Agenda grows out of recent decades' work on:

human rights (Vienna 1993 conference)
population and development (Cairo, 1994)
the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995 - the Platform for Action)
World Social Summit on Development (Copenhagen, 1995)
UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 2003)

See Box 2 and 4 for some of the goals established in these

Section 1:  Assesing Progress Toward Achieving Gender Equality

Something to keep in mind in assessing progress.

there is a  tendency to use only indicators related to education to gauge equality/empowerment
problems with this?

    doesn't reveal
    discrimination in workplace, choice of profession
    glass ceiling
    pay disparities

More than just disparity important - e.g. making education available to all
at current rate, Africa will not reach universal primary education goal til 2100

General pattern in progress, women's empowerment:
    biggest deficits in education, literacy, and non-agricultural waged employment in the poorest countries

    and/or those with decided preference for sons;

    women's share of seats in parliament less dependent on level of economic development, more a factor of political will of country

Only seven developed countries have achieved high levels of gender equality and empowerment on all selected indicators:
    Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Germany

Developing countries that have improved dramatically on parliament indicator:
    Argentina, Costa Rica, South Africa

See charts and charts in section 2 on poverty by region

Then Table 8-11 on highest, lowest achievers, regional comparisons

How is progress made?
   international development efforts

       IGOs, NGOs

   statistics needed

   government efforts

   political party efforts

   civil society efforts, grass roots initiatives

Links from media on Afghanistan's loya jirga and women's participation:
news.bbc.co.uk/.../ newsid_2032000/2032169.stm

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ world/south_asia/2044337.stm

www.cnn.com/.../central/ 12/14/afghan.loya.jirga/