Poor Reproductive Health Linked to Gender Inequality

Poor reproductive health services are a major contributor to gender inequality especially in developing countries.

In Sub-Saharan Africa the maternal mortality ratio is 474 deaths per 100 000 live births, revealed the recently released Human Development Report 2014.

According to the report, maternal deaths have major implications for infants and their older siblings who could be trapped in low human development throughout their lives as they are left without maternal care, while adolescent births could lead to devastating human development outcomes for mothers.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa there are 110 births per 1 000 women aged 15-19,” reads the report which was launched last week by the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

On the education front, 60 percent of women from age 25 in the world have some secondary education, compared to 67 percent of their male counterparts.

Women also lagged behind when it comes to participation in the labour market, but Sub-Saharan Africa shows a somewhat more promising picture as “women are more often than not forced to eke out a living in the informal sector,” compared to women in Arab States where a mere 25 percent work in contrast to 73 percent of men.

In national politics, women globally are disaantaged on average and occupy only 21 percent of seats in national parliaments.

“Better representation of women in political life can greatly improve the position of women generally,” stated the report, recognising Rwanda as having one of the most progressive laws in Africa to empower women and protect them from violence.

According to the report women also suffer the biggest brunt of discrimination worldwide, especially in countries where customary and religious laws prevail over civil laws that can discriminate against them in family, marriage, inheritance practices and economic rights.

In countries where women do not have the right to own land, the number of malnourished children averages 60 percent higher and 85 percent higher in countries where women lack any access to credit.

The Human Development Report 2014 also indicated women in Africa are almost twice as likely to experience violence as opposed to women in low and middle income Europe.

This state of affairs impacts on their ability to participate in economic activity outside the home, stated the report.

The 2014 Human Development Report is the latest in the series of global human development reports published by the UNDP since 1990 as independent, empirically grounded analyses of major development issues, trends and policies.

Source : New Era