A woman rides a bicycles in Ouagadougou SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

What Boosts Gender Equality in Developing Countries?

A basic requirement for gender parity anywhere is fair access to work and financial resources. In the Global South, many women are addressing this need collectively; the creation of informal savings groups are giving women in some of the poorest places the power to plan their own future.

WASHINGTON, DC – On March 8, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day, an annual opportunity to recommit to gender equality. This year’s observance comes at an important time for women’s rights, as global movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are refocusing attention on the discriminatory practices that women confront in their social and professional lives.

But while women in the developed world are waging big battles over gender bias, women and girls in developing countries remain focused on smaller victories. On this International Women’s Day, we must not forget that in the world’s poorest communities, poverty, hunger, domestic violence, and discrimination remain endemic obstacles to gender parity.

I have studied gender and development in the Global South for 15 years. My research, which has included thousands of interviews with women from India to Burkina Faso, has centered on one question: How can the international community improve the welfare of the world’s poorest women? The answer, it turns out, is to help them do what they are already doing on their own.

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