Goal 3 – Eliminating gender disparity

The progress in eliminating gender disparities in access to primary education is the most striking. Gender gaps in education are weakest in Eastern Africa, followed by South Africa and North Africa, while Southern Africa exhibits the greatest disparities. Thus, 67.9 per cent of countries have reached or are on course to reach the target by 2015 and more than 80 per cent have a rate superior or close to the average. Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania and Benin have reached parity with gaps closing by more than 30 points since 1990. Some countries (Mauritania, Gambia, Rwanda and Malawi) exhibit moreover an advantage in favour of women. In contrast, disparities remain particularly high and register weak improvements in Somalia, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Chad. Lastly, four countries (Cape Verde, Eritrea, Libya and Swaziland) although close to the average in terms of status, have not progressed. Performances in primary education are to a lesser extent reproduced in secondary education where disparities between countries are correlated to those in primary schooling.

While the eradication of gender disparities in school enrolment represents a major development objective in itself, it is also imperative that women have the opportunity to enter the labour market and participate in political decision making. In this field, progress has been mixed. Thus, the reduction of gender disparities in labour market participation is not significant. On the other hand, representation of women in the political sphere while poor, is improving. Thus, in 12 countries the percentage of national parliamentary seats occupied by women more than doubled between 1990 and 2007. Rwanda exhibited the best performance with a rate of 56 per cent, followed by Mozambique (34.8 per cent) and South Africa (32.8 per cent). In contrast, the already high inequalities in São Tomé and Principe were maintained and they deepened further in Chad and Mali.