Gender equality (GE) is a critical component of social progress. It is a basic right that does not need economic justification. This is reflected in the explicit inclusion of gender-related development objectives in the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Yet gender equality also has broad and positive implications for economic and social development.
MDG 3, which specifically aims to promote gender equality and to empower women, will not be achieved at current rates of progress. Also, according to the United Nations, achieving MDG 5 for a significant reduction in maternal mortality in developing countries remains elusive. To deliver these two MDGs and to achieve supporting targets, it is critical to raise the level of debate and to gain visibility for gender equality through strong factual evidence, as well as effective communication.
This report sets out the available evidence on how greater gender equality in the developing world could enhance economic growth. It uses the eight key factors for economic growth developed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) as a framework for prioritizing and organizing the evidence.
These factors - human capital, physical capital, the rule of law, competitive markets, macroeconomic stability, infrastructure, openness to trade and investment, and increased agricultural productivity - are the conditions most likely to ensure that a strong economic performance will be established and will endure in a country. The report also indicates how achievement of the MDGs related to gender equality will help to secure the delivery of the other MDGs and presents a set of strategic policy options.