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GMR 2009: Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

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Target:

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015
Most of the progress in achieving gender parity in education has been made at the primary school level, but regions such as East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean have had fairly good progress at all education levels. Female participation in the labor force has increased, but labor force participation rates, occupational levels, and wages reveal continuing significant gender gaps.

Gender disparity at primary and secondary education, by regions

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Gender disparity is measured by the ratio of girls to boys enrolled in primary and secondary schools. Most regions are on track to achieve this target by 2015.

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East Asia and the Pacific and Europe and Central Asia are close to reaching the gender parity target for all education levels. The Latin America and Caribbean region is well on track to achieve the target at the primary level, but gender bias against boys is apparent at the secondary and tertiary levels. Regions with higher primary and secondary gender parity ratios have exhibited better performance at the tertiary level. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa lag behind at all levels for this target, particularly at the tertiary level.

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Twenty-five of 27 countries for which data exist in Latin America and the Caribbean have achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education. Eighteen of 21 countries in Europe and Central Asia and 15 of 17 countries in East Asia and the Pacific with available data are on track or have achieved this target. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 20 of 37 countries for which data exist are not on track, and another 10 countries lack data. Ten of the 22 fragile states (for which data exist) are seriously off track, and only 6 have achieved the target. Combining primary and secondary education for some countries masks gender bias at either the primary or secondary level of education. This progress assessment also does not take into account the gender bias for boys, but male underenrollment is a concern in many countries, especially at the secondary level. The methodology for assessing this target is currently being revised.

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The total labor force participation rate measures the proportion of the population between ages 15 and 64 that is economically active, employed, or actively seeking a job, while the share of females in total employment shows the extent to which women are active in the labor force. The percentage of females in the labor force is below 50 percent for all regions and is lowest in the Middle East and North Africa and in South Asia. South Asia showed no improvement in the ratio from 1990 to 2006, while several regions had slightly lower ratios in 2006 than in 1990. The only regions to show improvements were the Middle East and North Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The Enterprise Surveys indicate that about half of the firms in East Asia and the Pacific have female participation in ownership, compared to only 13 percent in South Asia and 18 percent in the Middle East and North Africa. The percentage of women in senior positions is far smaller, ranging from only 2 percent in South Asia to 13 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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