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3. The Role of and Potential for Public Action

Priorities for domestic policy action

Policy makers in developing countries will need to focus on those gender gaps where the payoffs for development are potentially the largest, higher incomes by themselves do little to reduce these gaps, and a reorientation of policies would yield the greatest benefit.

These priorities are:

  • Addressing excess deaths of girls and women and eliminating gender disadvantage in education where these remain entrenched.
  • Closing differences in access to economic opportunities and the ensuing earnings and productivity gaps between women and men.
  • Shrinking gender differences in voice within households and societies.
  • Limiting the reproduction of gender inequality across generations.

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The role of the international community

While domestic policy action is crucial, the international community can play a role in complementing these efforts in each of these four priority areas and, more generally, in supporting evidence-based public action through better data, impact evaluation, and learning.

The proposed agenda for global action can be grouped into three types of activities: providing financial support, fostering innovation and learning and leveraging effective partnerships.

Table: The Agenda for Global Action At A Glance

Priority area New/additional initiatives that need support Directions for the global development community
Providing financial support Fostering innovation and learning Leveraging partnerships
Closing gender gaps in human endowments Increasing access to education among disadvantaged groups  
Increasing access to clean water  
Increasing access to specialized maternal services
Strengthening support for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS  
Promoting women's access to economic opportunities Increasing access to child care and early childhood development  
Investing in rural women  
Closing gender gaps in voice and agency Increasing women’s access to the justice system    
Shifting norms regarding violence against women  
Preventing intergenerational reproduction of gender inequality Investing in adolescent girls and boys    
Supporting evidence-based public action Generating new information  
Facilitating knowledge sharing and learning    

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