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Overcoming gender inequalities: why is it so important?

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Across the world, gender inequalities are large and persistent. We have inequalities in basic human rights, in control over economic resources (land, finance, information, earnings and employment, to name a few) and, of course, in power in the public and private spheres. There other forms of inequality which are more difficult to measure, such as access to joint income and assets within the household and those associated with the widespread prevalence of various forms of violence against women. Amartya Sen is surely right in stating that reducing these gender inequalities would go a long way toward empowering women and enhancing her well-being.

We should take some encouragement from two noticeable trends over the past several decades. One is greater recognition that the subjugation of women has led to a whole range of social ills and dysfunctions. The other is that moving toward greater gender equality need not be seen as a zero-sum game, implying loss for men. Rather, gender equality …