Gender and community development is a process towards sustainable way of community development incorporating all the gender with equal participation and involvement. In context of rural Kenya, women and girls play an important role, largely unpaid role in generating family income, by providing labour for planting, weeding and harvesting crops. When we see the social inclusion index, women are lagging behind in education dimension index, economic index, women have less access to control over resources, benefit, and opportunities including land, assets, credit and household income.
Therefore, this paper argued that the link between gender equality and community development go both ways and that each direction of the relationship matters for policy making.
Higher income and improved service delivery both essential elements of broad economic development that contribute to greater gender equality. That is why the rise in global prosperity in the past quarter century has seen the unprecedented narrowing of gender gaps on many education and health outcomes as well as in labour market opportunities.
More women than men now attend universities across the world. And women make up over 40% of the world’s labour force. But not all gender gap has shrunk or are shrinking with the rising incomes. Poor girls and those who live in remote areas or belong to excluded groups are less likely to attend primary and secondary education than boys in the same circumstances.
Women continue to cluster in sectors and occupations characterised as ‘female’- many of them lower paying. Women are more likely to be the victims of violence at home and suffer more severe injuries. And almost everywhere, the representation of women in politics and in senior managerial positions in business remains far lower than that of men.
Understanding which of these gaps respond to economic development and why they do so is relevant to policy because it helps shines the light on the gender gaps that need attention. The disparities between men and women or girls and boys that shrinks as countries get richer, differences in access to education for example need less policy attention through gender, less than those that are more persistent, such as differences in wages, Agricultural productivity and societal voice.
The reverse relationship- from gender equality to community development- also matters for policy for two reasons. First, gender equality matters in its own rights, because of the ability to live the life of one’s own choosing and be spared from absolute deprivation is a basic human right, to be enjoyed by everyone, whether one is male or female.
Because development is a process of expanding freedoms for all people, gender equality is core objective itself. Just as lower income, poverty, and greater access to justice is part of community development, so too is the narrowing of gap in well-being between males and female.
Second, greater gender equality can enhance economic efficiency and improve other development outcomes. Evidence from growing set of micro-economic studies points to three main channels for greater gender equality to promote growth in the following manner.
MISS ALLOCATING WOMEN’S SKILLS AND TALENTS COMES AT A LARGE ECONOMIC COST:
Gender equality can have a large impact on productivity, especially with women now representing large shares of the world’s workforce and university graduates. For countries to be performing at their potentials the skills and talents of these women should be applied to activities that make best use of those abilities.
But this is not always the case. Women’s labour is too often underused or miss-allocated because they face discrimination in markets or social institutions that prevent them from having access to productive inputs and earning the same incomes as men. The consequence economic losses.
The food and Agriculture Organization estimates that equalizing access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase Agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent. Since women in these regions produce between 60-80 percent of food crops, yet continue to face social barriers and inequalities that prevent them from realizing their full economic potential, which is diversely affecting the economic growth of the country and development. Eliminating barriers preventing women from entering certain sectors or occupations would have similar positive effect, increasing output per worker by 13 to 25 percent.
These gains are large in the 21-century’s integrated and competitive world, where even modest improvements in efficiency of resources use can have significant effects on growth. In a world of open trade, gender inequality has become costlier because it diminishes a country ability to compete internationally-particularly if the country specializing in exporting goods and services that men and women workers are equally suited to produce.
Industries that rely more on female labour expand more in countries where women and men are more equal. In a globalized world, then, countries that reduce gender-based inequalities, especially in secondary and tertiary education and in economic participation, will have a clear advantage over those that delay action.
The rapid aging of the world’s population implies that fewer workers will be supporting growing numbers of elderly in decades to come, unless labour participation increases significantly among the groups that participate less today – mainly women.
In developing countries and regions with rapid aging demographic structures like China and Eastern Europe, encouraging women to enter and remain in the labour force can dampen the impact of shrinking working-age populations.
WOMEN’S ENDOWMENTS, OPPORTUNITES AND AGENCY SHAPE THOSE OF THE NEXT GENERATION.
Women’s economic empowerment and greater control of resources also increases investments in children’s education, health and nutrition, boosting future economic growth. Evidence from a range of countries such as South Africa and Brazil shows that increasing the share of the households that women control, either through their own earnings or cash transfers changes spending in ways that benefit children.
Improvement in women’s health and education can also benefit the next generation. Better nutritional status and higher education levels of mothers are associated with better child health outcomes- from immunization rates, to nutrition, to child mortality. Mother’s schooling is positively linked to children is educational attainment across a broad set of countries. In Pakistan, children whose mothers have a single year of education spend extra hour studying at home every day and receive higher test scores.
Women’s lack agency – evidence is domestic violence has consequences for the children cognitive behaviour, and health as adults. Medical research from developed countries has established a link between exposure to domestic violence in childhood and health problems in adulthood.
Numerous studies also document how witnessing violence between one’s parents as a child increases the likelihood that women experience violence from their own partners as adult and that men penetrate violence against their partners.
INCREASING WOMEN’S INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE AGENCY PRODUCES BETTER OUTCOME, INSTITUTIONS AND POLICY CHOICES.
Across countries and cultures, men and women differ in agency- that is, ability to make choices that lead to desired outcomes- with women usually at a disadvantage. When women and men do not have equal chances to be socially and politically active and to influence laws politics and policy making – institutions and policies are more likely to systematically favour the interests of those with more influence. So, the institutional constraints and markets failures that feed gender inequalities are less likely to be addressed and corrected, perpetuating gender inequality over generations.
Women’s collective agency can be transformative for society as a whole. Empowering women as political and social actors can change policy choices and make institutions more representative of arrange of voices. Female suffrage in the United States led policy makers to turn their attention to child and maternal health and helped lower infant mortality by 8-15 percent.
Several studies have also examined the relationship between gender equality and economic growth at aggregate level. Using cross-country data. It provides considerable evidence that gender equality matters for many aspects of growth.
CHALLENGES OF ATTAINING GENDER EQUALITY IN RURAL COMMUNITIES IN KENYA.
Things have changed for better but not for all women, and not in all domains of gender equality. Progress has been slow and limited for women in every poor country, for those who are poor a mid greater wealth, and for those who face other forms of exclusion because of their disability, ethnicity and sex orientation. Whether companions between men and women in the same countries, the progress in some domains is tempered by the sobering realities that many women face in others as discussed below.
Severely disadvantaged population: a cross and within countries, gender gaps widen at lower incomes and in the poorest economies, gender gaps are larger. The benefits of economic growth have not occurred equally to all men and all women for some parts of the society.
Household poverty can mute the impact of national development and the differences are often compounded by other means of social exclusion, such as geography and ethnicity.
Sticky domains: improvements in some domains of gender equality- such as those related to occupational differences or participation in policy making -are bound by constraints that do not shift with economic growth and development.
Gender disparities endure even in high-income economies despite the large gains in women’s civil and economic rights in the past century. These outcomes are as a result of slow- moving institutional dynamics and deep structural factors that growth alone cannot address.
Reversals: external shocks-sometimes economic, sometimes political, sometimes institutional – can erase hard -earned gains. In some instances, improvements in gender equality have been reversed in the face of unexpected shock that revealed or worsened institutional or market failures. The shock affect both males and females, but multiple factors shape their impact on gender differentials – among them, the source and type of shock, economic and institutional structures and social norms.
Even when the shocks do not have differential gender impacts, the absolute welfare losses for both men and women can be substantial. In particular, adverse circumstances early in life, as in the critical first three years, can have irreversible long-term effects.
Less voice and less power: some domains of gender equality where progress has been slowest fall in the domain of women’s agency- women’s ability to make decisions about earned income or family spending reflect. Their control over their own lives and immediate environment, trends in domestic violence capture intra-household gender dynamics and asymmetric power relations between men and women and pattern in political voice can measure inclusiveness in decision making, exercise of leadership and access to power.
Less control over resources: many women have no say over household finances, even their own earnings. The demographic health survey shows that women in rural areas are not involved in household decisions about spending their personal earned income.
Less control over the resources and spending is partly are flection of large differences between men and women in the assets they own. In many communities in Kenya, land ownership remains a restricted to men only. Customary laws disadvantage women in land ownership, and they can only acquire land through marriage. Marriage is the most avenue to women to own land, but husbands usually own it, while wives only have acclaim to its use.
While the property rights for women have slowly begun to improve in Kenya, legislation has often proved insufficient to change observed practices.
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