Gender
Introduction
Gender-based discrimination means that girls and women do not have the same opportunities as boys and men for education, meaningful careers, political influence, and economic advancement. Also, when women and men perform the same tasks for pay, women are often paid less and receive fewer benefits from their work than men.Discrimination denies them health care and education.Discrimination robs girls and women of the the power to make decisions, to earn a living and to be free from violence, abuse and exploitation.By recognizing and addressing discrimination against girls and women, success in the fight against all forms of discrimination -- class, race, ethnicity and age -- will become more likely, and more lasting.

Sex Ratio

(2009 est.)

at birth:

1.07 male(s)/female

under 15 years:

1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years:

1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over:

0.78 male(s)/female

total population:

1.01 male(s)/female

Education is a basic human right, vital to the development and well-being of individuals and societies as whole. UNICEF advocates quality basic education for all children — girls and boys — with an emphasis on gender equality and eliminating disparities of all kinds.The “Global Gender Gap Index 2007”, published by the World Economic Forum, ranks 128 countries according to the level of gender-inequality existing in those countries. This ranking is based on 14 indicators covering political representation, access to education, health and economic participation.

Ineffective enforcement of legislation is the most common constraint, possibly not helped by the plethora of UN organisations addressing different aspects of gender inequality.As part of the UN reform process, there have been calls for a more streamlined architecture of agencies to bring greater coherence to women's issues.

One of the most shameful failures of legislation relates to the practice of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide in India and China. Originally believed to be a characteristic of impoverished rural communities, recent disclosures suggest that over 10% of female pregnancies in middle class New Delhi are aborted. In China, 118 boys were born in 2005 for every 100 girls. There can be no more explicit illustration of the strength of cultural norms to attribute low status to women.

It is such cultural traditions in developing countries that create the most stubborn obstacle to the essential steps towards women's equality. The belief that girls should work in the home and in the fields rather than go to school, and the presumption that a woman acquires no right to property on marriage are deeply entrenched in many societies. Whilst development agencies are normally anxious to respect cultural traditions in their programmes, they are reluctant to compromise on issues of gender equality.

The disempowerment of women is often reinforced in a country's laws; for example, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are in various stages of amending laws which prevent women from gaining access to land and property. The HIV/AIDS crisis has accelerated these pressures, given that over 30% of households in southern Africa are now headed by women, few of whom can claim ownership rights.

Legal issues are most problematic in Islamic countries where elements of Sharia law governing the behaviour of women remain in place.

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