Africa: Gender Inequality Costing Africa Billions, UN Agency Says. 7/9/2016

Published by ALLAFRICA


Photo: PHOTOESSAY: Making Improved Seed Available in Kenya's Drylands

Dryland Seed was founded in 2004 by Ngila Kimotho who left his job in the private sector to start a seed company of his own.

In 2007 he received a U.S$150,000 AGRA …

Sub-Saharan
Africa loses around Sh9.5 trillion every year due to gender inequality, a new
report by a UN agency has warned.

According
to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released during the
Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) held in
Nairobi, the loss, is equivalent to six per cent of the country's Gross Domestic
Product (GDP).

It
further breaks down the staggering figure to show that although between 2010
and 2014 the region lost $95 billion, in 2014 alone the losses peaked at
$105billion.

Some of
the reasons cited in the Africa Human Development Report 2016 for this loss
include deeply-rooted structural obstacles like unequal distribution of
resources and political power, capped with social institutions that sustain
inequality, which are holding back African women, and the continent.

As a
result, the UNDP has warned that African countries will fail to meet their
poverty reduction targets unless they tackle gender inequality that has proven
to be costing billions of dollars.

"If
gender gaps can be closed in labour markets, education, health, and other
areas, then poverty and hunger eradication can be accelerated," said UNDP
Administrator Helen Clark.

To
mitigate the problem, experts said that addressing the unequal treatment of
women in the workplace is one area where governments could make a difference.

"Countries'
development goals are not going to be achieved unless women are fully part of
the story, it's as simple as that," said Ms Clark.

"The
cost of not having women participate on the same level as men costs not only
women and their family, it costs the whole country because they're not able to
make the contribution they could make."

While in
East Africa, only Rwanda (at position six) has been ranked as the country that
has been able to achieve gender equality -- as per the Global Gender Gap index,
2015 --Kenya is ranked at position 48.

Kenya is
ranked in position 145 on the list of countries ranked low on the African Human
Development Index.

One of
the major blows dealt to the gender equality is the parliament's inability to
pass the two-third gender rule, despite the clause being included in the
Constitution.

But there
has been concerted effort by the civil society to push parliament to ensure
that a third of elected seats are occupied by women with the latest effort
through a Bill brought in parliament seeking to turn the constitutional
requirement into law rejected by members of parliament.

"As
our economies grow we must strive to ensure that the gains from our growth are
felt by everybody, but not just that they are felt," said President Uhuru
Kenyatta during the release of the report a week ago.

The UN
body's report analysed the political, economic and social drivers that hamper
African women's advancement indicating that only between 7 and 30 per cent of
all private firms have a female manager.

The
report further indicates that African women hold 66 per cent of jobs in the
non-agricultural informal sector and only make 70 cents for each dollar made by
men.

It adds
that even though 61 per cent of African women are working, they face economic
exclusion as their jobs are undervalued and underpaid and are often in the
informal sector.

The
report proposes policies and actions such as 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 to close the
gender gap.

In Africa
Mauritius was placed at position 63 among the High Human Development category.