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Fridays Academy: Gender and Macroeconomics

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

We continue with our new course on Gender and Macroeconomic Policy, as usual based on Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.

Gender and Macroeconomics

Despite the improvements made in recognizing gender as an analytical category at the microeconomic level, the macroeconomic implications of gender remained underdeveloped until recently. Ça?atay (Engendering Macroeconomics and Macroeconomic Policies, 1998) identifies three reasons for the emergence of interest in macroeconomics and gender:

(i) it was increasingly recognized from the 1970s that economic development had generally affected women differently than men in the developing world
(ii) it was recognized that the direction of causation between the macro-economy and gender could go both ways, i.e. gender relations affect macroeconomic outcomes and macroeconomic outcomes affect gender relations
(iii) feminists in the 1980s pointed out that macroeconomic policies being implemented in the developing world in the context of structural adjustment policies were not gender neutral

In other words, it was increasingly recognized amongst the academic and policy community that a better understanding of macroeconomic outcomes for development and growth required gender-informed macroeconomic policies and models. Benería (1995) cites Boserup’s (1970) book Women’s Role in Economic Development as one of the first studies to suggest that development policies were oftentimes gender-biased. Engendering macroeconomics relies upon the inclusion of gender as an analytical category in macroeconomic policy models. Yet progress on this level has been slow, in spite of empirical findings on the effects of gender inequalities for development and growth.

Although the studies in the 1970s sought to engender development, most of the work was typical of the ‘add women and stir approach’ and failed to raise feminist questions (Benería, 1995). This shortcoming was addressed by studies during the 1980s that focused on the issues of gender relations and inequality. The studies pursued a micro, interdisciplinary approach that nevertheless had implications for the macro-economy, growth and development.



Gender Inequalities and Women

  • In no region do women and men have equal rights. In a number of countries, women still lack independent rights to own land, manage property, conduct business, or even travel without their husbands’ consent.
  • Women continue to have systematically poorer command over a range of productive resources, including land, information, and financial resources.
  • Despite considerable increases in women’s education relative to men, women continue to have limited opportunities and earn less than men in the labor market—even when they have the same education and work experience as men.
  • Women remain vastly underrepresented in politics and policymaking. They hold less than 10 percent of the seats in parliaments in most regions and less than 8 percent of government ministerial positions.

 Source:   Development Outreach, Spring 2001


 Gender equality was identified by the World Bank in its 2001 study Engendering Development as a core development issue and a development objective in its own right.  Evidence referenced and discussed in this report points to the significant social and economic costs for economic growth and development that arise from rigid gender roles and associated gender asymmetries.

 Females endure most of the inequalities and while significant progress in gender equality and in the status of women in particular has taken place within the second half of the 20th century, it has remained largely the preserve of the developed world.  Across countries, gender inequalities in basic indicators of well being and development are greatest on average in poor countries and are greatest among the poorest households within countries. 

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