Women and World Development: Statistics

By Haniyat Bakare

Mr. Andrew Mitchell, 2010-2012 Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom said during the 2010 Annual Ministerial Review of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC): “Women and girls play a salient role in ensuring peace, security, sustainable development and to the overall achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” One might ask, “how exactly have women enhanced development?” Before we examine the statistics, let us understand what development is.

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Development does not have an exact definition. However, it is mostly defined as “an ideal state to be achieved by human effort.” According to Barry Baker, in his textbook, World Development, people have different understandings of the concept. To some, it is a means of generating wealth and better social conditions. While others see development as continuous use of resources, which could eventually lead to environmental degradation and social division.
Development can be traced back to the 1947 Marshall Plan or “European economic recovery”, when the United States (US) gave about 13 billion US Dollars to European countries to help revive their industries. Therefore, development, otherwise known as international or global development was based on “democratic fair dealing” of the Global North, which entails industrialisation and access to financial resources.
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Development can be measured not just economically but culturally, morally, socially, politically and psychologically. These categories fall under “human development.” Economic development is measured through the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Gross National Income (GNI), which account for the value of goods and services produced within the country. Moreover, ‘per capita’ income is a more accurate means of measuring it because the incomes generated by industries abroad and the population of each country are factored in.
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Human development, on the other hand, is measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). HDI, established by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990 focuses on economic “and” social welfareof the “people” in a country, not just the “economy”. HDI concentrates on three elements:
● Levels of wealth in the country: measured by GDP per capita and the citizens purchasing power, measured by purchasing power parity (PPP),
● Health: measured by life expectancy at birth, and
● Education: measured by the percentage of people in school at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, and literacy level.
Since our organization CAJPHR focuses on Africans and migrants in The Netherlands, these are the HDI level from both regions: between 1990 and 2017, UNDP’s 2018 statistical update shows that Kenya’s HDI value increased by 26.1 percent; Ethiopia by 63.5 percent increase, Sudan’s increased by 51.8 percent, Cameroon increased by 26.3 percent, while Ghana recorded an increase of 30.1 percent. On the other hand, The Netherlands’ HDI value increased by 12.3 percent.
Women have been officially involved in development from the 1960s and 70s via three feminist approaches: “Women in development (WID), Women and Development (WAD), and Gender and Development (GAD).”
WID worked towards integrating women into the workforce with the belief that women’s productivity will increase if they had “access to technology, credit and extension services”, which will trickle down to the advancement of the development process. Women such as Ester Boserup, who wrote Woman’s Role in Economic Development, and other female professionals championed this cause.
WAD’s approach centered on women-development process relation. WAD also argues that women should focus on owning small-scale businesses and projects away from the male-dominated development processes. Although both WID and WAD did not consider the reproductive side of women’s lives. GAD could have filled this gap, but it focused on gender relations, specifically what “separates” both genders and not what “connects” them.
Statistics of Women’s Contribution to Agricultural Development
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International development community states agriculture as a crucial part of economic growth and poverty alleviation. Food, a basic human need, is produced by farmers for subsistence purposes or for sale (agribusiness). According to Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), women make up “43 percent agricultural labour force in developing countries in 2010”. Half or above of the workers in the “export-oriented high-value agricultural sector in developing economies are also women.
Statistics of Women’s Contribution to Educational Development
Education wise, a study done by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in 2018 shows that women constitute 45 percent of people who work in the university (WO) level or have a higher occupational (HBO) job. This percentage increased by 2 percent in 2013. Women also led in other professionals such as Law, as there were more female judges than male (63 percent) by the year ending in 2018.
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Statistics of Women’s Contribution to Health Development
In the health sector, research done by the World Health Organization Health Workforceshows that 70 percent of health and social workers are women. They also account for an annual amount of 3 trillion US dollars globally. Women, who were mostly midwives and nurses and now becoming physicians, dentists, etc.- “the higher wage health care occupations.” A study by Labour Force Surveys (LFS) shows that between 2000 and 2017, the percentage of female physicians increased by 13 percent.

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At CAJPHR, we believe with women playing active roles in world development. Hence, on March 22nd, 2019, in honour of International Women’s Day, we held a Women Empowerment Event organised to empower women of African descent; “Renew their minds, Re-state their goals, Re-brand their lives & Re-tell their stories.” We had four women speakers give keynote presentations.