A new collection of papers – Towards Gender Equity in Development – sets out to “explore key sources of female empowerment and discuss the current challenges and opportunities for the future” in three categories: marriage, outside options, and laws and cultural norms. The final published book is available for free, and the individual chapters are available as working papers.
In the introduction, Anderson, Beaman, and Platteau discuss the current landscape of gender discrimination in low- and middle-income countries. In a set of tables that I’ve transformed into a single, completely unwieldy figure. We see discrimination in social norms, legal rights, and marriage indicators. (In all of these indicators, 100% is the worst; 0% is the best.) What stands out is that while no single region dominates the discrimination landscape, every region has significant room to improve. West Africa has high rates of female genital mutilation, South Asia has high rates of son bias, Central Africa has high rates of polygyny, West Asia has high mobility restrictions on women, and the Caribbean has few to no laws against harassment.