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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

6 - Empowering Women: Saving Mothers and Enhancing Opportunities


Over the last three decades, governments and international development agencies have recognized the importance of women’s status and gendered exclusion for the overall population’s well-being. Women are more likely to face poverty and greater social, economic, cultural, and political barriers to address their vulnerabilities than men. A focus on women and girls is normatively justified given that they constitute more than half of the world’s population. Yet beyond their numerical size, there is growing consensus that women’s status affects development outcomes for everyone (Sen 1999; Nussbaum 2011). Historical and existing barriers for women and girls to fully develop as individuals – due to patriarchy, paternalism, and other forms of gender discrimination – violate international human rights norms and hinder instrumental goals to further broader human development. For instance, research reveals that gender discrimination that creates barriers to girls’ education has negative spillover effects in a number of domains related to development.

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