Gender Gap Costing Sub-Saharan Africa $95B Annually – UN

Gender Gap Costing Sub-Saharan Africa $95B Annually – UN

Sub-Saharan Africa is losing $95 billion annually due to fewer jobs given to women on the continent, a United Nations (UN) report showed, adding that the continent was home to seven of the most unequal countries in the world.

African women have been overshadowed by men in economic production and hold only 66 percent of all jobs in non-agricultural informal sector, according to Africa Human Development Report 2016, which was released during the two-day Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) summit that ended on Sunday in Nairobi, Kenya.

The report recommended that African countries increase women participation in their labor markets if they wanted to eradicate poverty and hunger and boost the wellbeing of people living on the continent.

This means Africa loses six percent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it was highest in 2014, when the region lost $105 billion.

“If gender gaps can be closed in labor markets, education, health and other areas, then poverty and hunger eradication can be achieved,” Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator said.

According to the report that analyzed the social, economic and social factors that hinder women participation in African countries, unequal distribution of resources, power and wealth and social norm that marginalize women are major contributors to the inequality.

In most nations, fewer girls go to school, women are paid less money than men for labor and harmful practices such as child marriages, sexual and physical violence affect women’s health, leading to high mortality rates, Voice of America reported.

“On the basis of this, investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment is not only a human rights issue, but it is good economics and at the same time a development imperative,” Ayodele Odusola, UNDP chief economist told Voice of America.

He said that nations that have invested heavily in gender equality have performed better on human development.

Odusola added that there are improvements in some countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso where reproductive health is openly being discussed and Gambia banning early child marriages.

Gender gap

Rwanda is one of the leading nations globally in women empowerment and has seen an increase in its human development.

The East African nation has the highest representation of women in political and other national leadership platforms in Africa; 64 percent of parliamentarians, 40 percent in cabinet and 38 percent of senators, The New Times reported.

In Kenya, the civil society has been pushing parliament to ensure that at least one-third of elective posts are occupied by women in accordance with the new constitution passed in August 2010.

According to the UN report released on Sunday, African countries should adopt legal reforms to promote gender equality, empower women and ensure they freely own assets and manage resources.