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Rigid Gender Gaps and Missing SDG Targets and Indicators

The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 draws attention to the widening of gender gap in health and economic sphere. Two indicators are used in this report with respect to gender gap gap in health: gap in healthy life expectancy and sex ratio at birth (after adjusting for the fact that more males are born). Sex ratio at birth (female-over-male) amongst the countries studied has declined from 0.94 to 0.92 (1 being equality) between 2006 and 2015, while gender gap in healthy life expectancy has remained the same. Sex selection has spread to new countries (apart from China, India) like Azerbaijan, Georgia, Albania, Vietnam etc. More than half the world lives with skewed sex ratio at birth, yet it is not a SDG target. Let us hope equitable sex ratio gets added as an indicator of the target of elimination of gender discrimination discrimination.

Yet another realm in which gender gaps have widened is the economic sphere. In particular, gender gap in professional and technical workers has increased from 0.79 to 0.64, in senior officials and managers has increased from 0.37 to 0.27, in labour force participation has increased from 0.37 to 0.41, wage equality for similar work has declined from 0.64 to 0.60. On the other hand gaps in education have reduced

On International Women's Day we need to ask are females till born not valuable? Is women's health (healthy life expectancy) and education valued because they can be good mothers and wives? If they tread into the economic realm the benefits to men and family is less than the benefit if they stay at home as mothers and wives? Or the work place and public space is structured around 'men as norm' with no provision for shorter working hours, creches, leave if children are sick, flexible work spaces, dealing with sexual harassment, public transport etc. A combination of both these set of factors explain growth in countries like India accompanied by decline in labour force participation rate. We need SDG indicators like 'favourable attitudes of men/in laws to their wives/daughter in law working after children arrive' and 'proportion of 30 major companies with rules which are friendly to women staff'

Cross posted

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