Closing the Gender Gap in Sub-Saharan Africa


Statista’s Sub-Saharan Africa Gender Gap Index report from 2021, by country, showed that Sub-Saharan Africa had closed 67.2% of its gender gap, showing that women were on average 32% less likely to have the same opportunities as men in the region.

It should be noted that the Global Gender Gap Index measures gender gaps using four measures, namely economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The highest possible score on the index is one, meaning full equality between women and men.

Performance between different countries in the region differed. Namibia and Rwanda presented the best results, each with an index of 0.81. This achievement positioned the two countries among the ten best performers in the world alongside South Africa with an index of 0.78, Burundi with an index of 0.77, Mozambique with an index of 0.76, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Zambia and Madagascar with an index of 0.73 each and finally Uganda with an index of 0.72.

Namibia has reduced its overall gender gap by almost 2.5%. Health and survival are 98% and the country has achieved full parity in education. The economic gap has narrowed to 79.4% and it has one of the smallest political empowerment gaps in the world, at 46.3%. The economic gender gap in Rwanda is 72.6%, while the political gap is 56.3%. There is now parity in health and survival, and 95.7% in educational attainment. The two countries are now neck and neck and achieve full parity in all four categories. Zimbabwe and Mozambique have closed over 72% of their overall gender gaps; however, they arrived at this result by opposite paths.

On the other hand, the Democratic Republic of Congo had the weakest performance with an index of 0.58. Among the countries of the 10 worst performing sub-Saharan countries are Sierra Leone with an index of 0.66, Benin and Burkina Faso with an index of 0.65 each, Gambia and Côte d’Ivoire with an index of 0 .64 each, Niger and Nigeria with an index of 0.63 each, and Chad and Mali with an index of 0.59 each.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the third largest gender gap among the eight regions with an average remaining gap of 32.8%, just behind the East Asia and Pacific region and ahead of South Asia. South. After making progress in closing its gender gap for years, the region’s gender gap has started to widen again. Sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by higher variance in gender gap scores than virtually any other region in the world.

Gender inequality in economic participation and opportunity
According to research by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity is expected to take 267.6 years to close. This is due to a large difference in the gender gap, as even though the proportion of qualified female professionals continues to increase and equal pay is slowly improving, there is a persistent lack of women in positions. management, with women making up only 27% of the workforce. all leadership positions around the world and global income disparities remain an ongoing challenge.

Also Read: Expert worries about neglect of science, research and development in Africa

The pandemic has also weighed on the participation of women in important positions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) report indicates that 5% of all employed women lost their jobs, compared to 3.9% of employed men.
In sub-Saharan Africa, both men and women are active in the labor market and in entrepreneurship, but there are limits to the particular types of jobs or activities they can both perform. Half of the self-employed are women, compared to only a quarter who own a business or are salaried.

Even though it seems that no progress has been made in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, there is always a silver lining. Many private and public sector organizations are working proactively to bring more women to the board table and create diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and environments.

Gender inequality in educational attainment
In terms of schooling, girls in sub-Saharan Africa are the most disadvantaged in terms of access to school. The expansion of education is very uneven, with some countries and some population groups benefiting earlier and more than others.

Gender was a major fault line, as boys benefited disproportionately from emerging educational opportunities. In many sub-Saharan developing countries, women have caught up with and sometimes even surpassed men in terms of educational achievement. According UNESCO (2020), twelve of the seventeen countries in the world where girls have not yet caught up with boys in primary (lower secondary) schooling are located in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gender equality in education has been linked to a wide variety of positive outcomes for women, their households, and society as a whole. These positive outcomes include women’s economic and political participation later in life (World Bank 2017), lower fertility and reduced incidence of early marriage, reduced infant mortality, improved well -family and even economic growth. It is therefore crucial to understand the origins and drivers of the educational attainment of African women relative to that of men.

Gender inequalities in health and survival
Access to maternal and reproductive health services is unequally distributed among women in sub-Saharan African countries, as is usually the case when coverage of a type of service is well below universal access. Scarcity, by its very nature, produces inequality between those who have access to it and those who do not, which often manifests itself in systematic and persistent gaps between individuals belonging to different socio-economic groups.

Large gaps exist in coverage and access to quality maternal health services between the poorest and richest households, and between rural and urban areas. Only 56% of births are attended by skilled health personnel in rural areas, compared to 87% in urban areas.

The recently agreed development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), includes ambitious new targets for maternal and reproductive health, including the elimination of preventable maternal deaths by reducing the global rate of measles, mumps and rubella (RMM) to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030. .

Achieving universal coverage of essential maternal and reproductive health interventions should be the ultimate goal for all countries in the era of the SDGs. However, this is difficult given the low coverage rates in most sub-Saharan African countries and the inequality gaps. As a result, significant and avoidable inequalities remain in the coverage of health interventions for mothers, children and adolescents both between countries and within countries. Inequity, unjust and avoidable inequalities, persist in maternal and reproductive health indicators and outcomes, posing a serious threat to the achievement of agreed SDG targets.

Progress in achieving gender parity in most sub-Saharan countries has stalled economic growth. Although some countries in sub-Saharan Africa have made great strides towards gender parity in some areas, gender inequality remains high across the continent.

Source: Statista, BRIU
Source: Statista, BRIU
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