By Faustina Pereira
Director, Human Rights and Legal Aid Services, BRAC
There are important evidence-based studies that have shown, not least through the work of BRAC and Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, that by investing in and focusing on women as the centre of development interventions we achieve multi-layered levels of progress which rapidly spread from the household to the community and to the State level. These are also the interventions which have the most long lasting impact. When a woman is helped to recognize her own agency, and when her own justice seeking behavior increases, the behavior of the whole household changes. When we analyze Bangladesh’s achievements of being “on-track” in several key MDG targets, we see that placing women at the centre of an integrated multi-sectoral plan has worked best. For example, when analyzing Bangladesh’s remarkable achievement in case of maternal mortality reduction under the MDG framework, we see that investment a decade ago on retention of girl children in secondary schools has paid off.
Worldwide as well, we are able to tag national progress with the closing of the gender gap in girls’ enrolment in primary education and increase in women’s participation in the labor market. Now what is required is to go beyond meeting women’s basic needs to amplifying their voices as rights-holders to those development interventions.
Women’s rights advocates have been claiming for over a decade now the centrality of gender equality to any development framework. It is crucial that this message of approaching the post 2015 MDG formulations from a gender lens is understood adequately. Overwhelming evidence already tells us that despite decades of development interventions, it is women who continue to be the majority of the world’s poor. There is also evidence to show that the greatest barrier to progress on development goals has been gender inequality. The critical link between women’s empowerment and their equal access to education, work, health care and decision making to development outcomes is already well established. Such evidence and ground realities should be the driving force behind the framing of global development goals.
Justice, equality and empowerment: Issues that go beyond “smart” indicators … Read more here