Is gender a development issue?
Gender is definitely a development issue because attitudes towards gender and gender equality can have a great impact on a country’s level of development.
Women make up approximately half of the population of each country in the world. This fact should show us why gender could be so important in development. Imagine a country in which society believes that women should not be educated and should not work outside the home. This country would be severely curtailing its development potential. It would be taking half of its population and telling them that they could not contribute in any major way to the country’s economy. Therefore, attitudes towards gender can clearly have an impact on economic development.
Attitudes towards women can also impact a country’s level of development in other areas. For example, if women are considered to be relatively unimportant, there will be little attention paid to their medical needs. This can lead to greater levels of death in childbirth and of infant mortality. Both of these are important measures of development. If women do not have the right to control their own bodies and reproduction, birth rates will be very high. If a country has negative (as seen by us Westerners) attitudes towards women, it could lead to higher HIV infection rates. Men would be promiscuous because they felt no need to respect their wives. If they contracted HIV, they might continue to have unprotected sex with their wives who, because of their low status in society, could not refuse. All of these things would cause a country’s levels of development to remain low.
When women are treated poorly, countries tend to have lower levels of development. Therefore, we can argue, gender is a development issue.