Ndubuisi Francis in Nigeria

The pervasive gender gap in economic activities is constraining the African continent from achieving its full economic potential, averaging a loss of about $95 billion annually or $580 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2010.

This is contained in the Africa Human Development Report 2016 just released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report, which focused on “Accelerating Gender Equality and Women ‘s Empowerment in Africa”, said gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa an average of $95 billion annually, peaking at $105 billion in 2014– or six per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP).

According to the report, this is jeopardising the continent’s efforts at achieving inclusive human development and economic growth.

The 176-page report, which was released in Abuja by the UNDP country office, analysed the political, economic and social drivers that hamper the advancement of African women and proposed policies and concrete actions to close the gender gap.

Such steps include 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.

The report posited that deeply-rooted structural obstacles including unequal distribution of resources, power and wealth, combined with social institutions and norms that sustain inequality are holding African women, and the rest of the continent, back.

According to the report, an estimated 1 per cent increase in gender inequality reduces a country’s human development index by 0.75 per cent.