Enhancing women’s participation in economic development is essential not only for achieving social justice but also for reducing poverty. World wide experience shows clearly that supporting a stronger role for women contributes to economic growth, it improves child survival and overall family health and it reduces fertility thus helping to slow population growth rates. In short investing in women is central to sustainable development. And yet, despite these known returns, women still face many barriers in contributing to and benefiting from development. It is from this backdrop that this essay seeks to describe the ways and means to promote women’s participation in economic development. The essay will begin by defining the concept of economic development, after that it will go into describing the ways and means to promote women’s participation in economic development, in this essay the ways and means will be broken down into five areas, education, health, wage labour, agriculture and natural resource management and financial services. Thereafter a conclusion will be drawn. The concept of economic development can be taken to mean the sustained, concerted actions of policy makers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. Economic development can also be referred to as the quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy. Such actions can include multiple areas including development of human capital, critical infrastructure, regional competitiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health, safety, literacy and other initiatives (Todaro & Smith, 2005).
Education is the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. Education is important for everyone but it is especially significant for girls and women. This is true not only because education is an entry point to other opportunities, but also because the educational achievements of women can have ripple effects within the family and across generations. Investing in girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. Investments in secondary school education for girls especially yield high dividends. Girls who have been educated are likely to marry later and to have smaller and healthier families. Educated women can recognize the importance of health care and know how to seek it for themselves and their children. Education helps girls and women to know their human rights and to gain confidence to claim them (Thompson, 2004). In addition to this, the education of parents is linked to their children’s educational attainment, and the mother’s education is usually more influential than the father’s. An educated mother’s greater influence in household negotiations may allow her to secure more resources for her children. Educated mothers are more likely to be in the labour force, allowing them to pay some of the costs of schooling, and may be more aware of returns to schooling. And educated mothers, averaging fewer children, can concentrate more attention on each child. Besides having fewer children, mothers with schooling are less likely to have mistimed or unintended births. This has implications for schooling, because poor parents must choose which of their children to educate (ibid). Closing the gender gap in education is a development priority. The 1994 Cairo Consensus recognised education especially for women, as a force for social and economic development. Universal completion of primary education was set as a 20- year goal, as was wider access to secondary and higher education among girls and women. Closing the gender gap in education by 2015 is also one of the benchmarks for the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore it must be stated that once women are educated, they are able to participate effectively in economic development (Vossenberg, 2013).
Secondly there is the area of...
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