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Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

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Goal 3 picture
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TargetEliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015
Significant progress has been achieved since 1990 in reducing developing countries’ gender disparity in primary and secondary education. All regions except Sub-Saharan Africa are broadly on track to meet MDG 3 by 2015, even if some countries in these regions remain off track. However, gender gaps in wages and labor participation rates remain substantial, and there is little statistical evidence to suggest that these gaps are narrowing.
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 MDG 3 - Fig 1 - Ratio of girls to boys

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Gender disparity is measured by the ratio of girls to boys enrolled in schools, whether at the primary, secondary, or tertiary levels. Country data used to compute regional rates cover 92 percent of developing countries’ total population. The original target aimed to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005, but this target was achieved only in Latin America and the Caribbean; East Asia and the Pacific came close to meeting that target.

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 MDG 3 - Fig 2 - Proportion gender parity

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All 27 countries for which data exist in Latin America and the Caribbean have achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education. For the countries with available data, 2 of 18 countries in East Asia and the Pacific and 3 of 21 countries in Europe and Central Asia are not on track to meet this goal. Thirteen countries in these three regions still lack data. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 18 of 37 countries for which data exist are off track, and another 11 countries lack data. Eleven of 23 fragile states (for which data exist) are off track, while another 10 countries lack data for assessing progress.
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MDG 3 - Fig 3 - Gender differences

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Women generally receive lower wages than their male counterparts in the primary (agriculture and mining), secondary (manufacturing and construction), and tertiary (services) sectors of the economy. The wage ratio, used to analyze inequality in earnings, divides the female wage by the male wage. Chad’s primary sector had a wage ratio of 0.11 in 2002, indicating that men’s hourly earnings were almost ten times higher than women’s. In Albania men earned around double the hourly earnings of women in the primary sector. However, in some countries, such as the Arab Republic of Egypt, Malawi, and the Maldives, the wage ratio was higher than 1.0, indicating that women’s hourly earnings were higher than men’s. Overall, the data do not suggest strong patterns in terms of wage gaps by sectors. In some countries, such as Albania, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, or Turkey, wage gaps have been more pronounced in the primary sector than in the other two sectors. In others, such as the Maldives or Paraguay, wage gaps have been more pronounced in the tertiary sector. 

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 MDG 3 - Fig 4 - Share of men and women

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The labor force participation rate measures the proportion of the population between ages 15 and 64 that is economically active, that is, employed or actively seeking a job. Labor participation rates in all regions are lower for females than for males. Gender gaps in 2006 were the widest in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (46 percent and 47 percent, respectively). In all regions male labor participation rates declined between 1990 and 2006, to some extent because longer periods of education delayed entry into the labor market. In four of the six regions in the developing world, female labor participation rates declined in similar proportions, leaving gender gaps basically unchanged. In Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa, the combination of decreasing male participation rates and increasing female participation rates has narrowed the gender gap. 

 Photo credit: Shehzad Noorani



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