Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
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 was 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”, observed that gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa an average $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.
The report further observed that African women achieve only 87 per cent of the human development outcomes of men, and hold 66 per cent of all jobs in the non-agricultural informal sector but only make 70 cents for each dollar made by men.
It also stated that only between seven and 30 per cent of all private firms have a female manager.
This year’s report on gender equality reviewed the ongoing efforts of African countries to accelerate the pace of assuring women’s empowerment through all spheres of society –home and community, health and educational attainment, workplace, and in political participation and leadership.
The report noted that while significant progress has
been made across numerous fronts in most countries, gender equality for African women and girls is still far from satisfactory.
To address the gender gap, the report adopted a political economy approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa.
A key message of the report is that giving more concerted attention to gender equality will be an important and long overdue stimulus to faster and more inclusive human
development and economic growth for the entire continent.