Gender, Institutions and Development
“Gender, Institutions and Development” is an article that appeared in the Poverty in Focus magazine of the International Poverty Centre ( Poverty in Focus: Gender Equality , January 2008, pp. 10-11). The article is authored by Denis Drechsler, Johannes Jütting and Carina Lindberg of the OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Centre.
The article describes the multiple forms of gender discrimination around the world. In particular, the authors argue that women face serious inequalities based on social institutions such as norms, cultural traditions and informal family laws. According to the authors, this aspect has so far been neglected in international policy debates. While most research has focused on:
- the economic status of women (e.g. labor force participation);
- women’s access to resources such as education (e.g. literacy) or heath (e.g. life expectancy); and
- the political empowerment of women (e.g. women in ministerial positions)
less attention has been given to social institutions that impact on gender equality. This important information gap is addressed in the OECD Gender, Institutions and Development Data Base , which distinguishes four main categories of social institutions: family code; physical integrity; civil liberties; and ownership rights.
Importance of Social InstitutionsThe relevance of social institutions can be illustrated in many parts of the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of women work in the agricultural sector, but patriarchal traditions often deny them the right to own and manage the land they cultivate (see also: Women and Women and African Economic Developmentn Economic Development). Some countries in the [Countries:Africa_and_Middle_East|Middle East and North Africa] require women to have male company when leaving the house, making it difficult for them to attend educational facilities and engage in business activities independently. Furthermore, the region’s banks and lending institutions frequently ask female clients to obtain their husband’s permission or co-signature before granting them a credit (see also: Women in the Women in the Middle East and North Women and African Economic Development (MENA) (Women in the Women in the Middle East and North Women and African Economic Development (MENA) (MENA))).
In some instances, social norms such as female genital mutilation or any other type of violence against women – within or outside of the household – not only violate women’s basic human rights, but they seriously impair their health status and future chances in a professional career.
In fact, discriminatory social institutions seem to be negatively correlated to women’s participation in the paid labour force (see figure). So, the higher the level of discrimination through social institutions, the lower the level of women in non-agricultural paid work.
- OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Centre
- OECD Gender, Institutions and Development Data Base
- Women in the Women in the Middle East and North Women and African Economic Development (MENA) (Women in the Women in the Middle East and North Women and African Economic Development (MENA) (MENA))
- Women and Women and African Economic Developmentn Economic Development
- Poverty in Focus: Gender Equality
- social institutions