Gender & Development by Ines Renique
“Development if not engendered, is endangered” is a statement that is to the defense of women, and the role that they play in the development of communities, families, and nations. Women are the key component to positive changes, not just for themselves but for those around them, as the expression goes: “ educate a girl and you are educating an entire village”. Moreover, development is not gender neutral, as it is more often than not sexist and repressive towards women. Take for example, the informal unpaid work of women.
Much of subsistent production, informal paid work, volunteer work, and domestic production, is all led or conducted by women. More often than not, these types of work, although all essential, are not accounted for in a nation’s economy, as they are considered to be outside of the economic realm. However, if household production were in fact accounted for, then growth rates would be more accurate. Development of countries cannot even be measured entirely accurately without accounting for the work so many women do around the world.
Moreover, something else that stagnates development is that so many women and girls are not accounted for. A statistic I learned recently—each day, 41,000 girls are married as children, making it 15 million girls a year. Besides being a human rights violation, this is a massive blockade to development. These are girls that will not be able to receive a higher education, and girls that will be expected to have children while they themselves are still children. These girls can easily become women that are unaccounted for, and that are not given the basic rights of citizenship, as outlined by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Combating deeply entrenched gendered norms is a far from easy task. Any kind of intervention to create positive change for women and development will undoubtedly need to be multi- sectoral. However, there are daily advancements in improving the lives of women and empowering them further. A healthy, educated, and empowered woman is the key to further development.