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Restricted choices as indentified in a lifecycle approach

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  • Published
    21st Mar, 2020
  • Human development is about expanding substantive freedoms and choices, and too often women face heavily restricted or even “tragic” choices.
  • Social norms can affect girls even before they are born since some countries deeply prefer bearing sons over daughters.
  • Discrimination continues through the way households share resources. Girls and women sometimes eat last and least in the household.
  • The gender politics of food—nurtured by assumptions, norms and practices about women needing fewer calories—can push women into perpetual malnutrition and protein deficiency.
  • Among children attending school, determinants of occupational choices appear very early. Girls are less likely to study STEM, while boys are a minority of those studying health and education.
    • For example, in OECD countries, on average among STEM graduates, only 32.6 percent are women.
  • Early marriage condemns girls to live a life with heavily restricted choices—every year 12 million girls are victims of forced marriage.
    • Highest rates are registered in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 36 percent of women marrying before their 18th birthday, and South Asia, with 29 percent.
  • The disparities of childhood and adolescence are amplified when women reach adulthood. For unpaid care work, women bear a bigger burden, on average spending about 2.5 times more than men do.
    • This affects women’s labor force participation, which is consistently lower than for men, both globally and by human development grouping.
    • In 2018, global labour force participation rate was around 75 percent for men and 48 percent for women.
  • Professional women mostly have two options for their personal partners—a super-supportive partner or no partner at all.
    • Husbands are considered a key factor in two-thirds of women’s decisions to quit the workforce, often because women had to fill the parenting vacuum.
    • Additionally, skilled women, who are more likely to participate in the labor market, face social norms that make them less attractive potential partners in the marriage market.
  • Older women’s challenges accumulate through the life course. They are less likely than men to have access to pensions, even though they can expect to live three years longer.

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