Recently, I was reading the main messages of the World Development Report 2012, chapter on Gender Equality and Development. While reading I could relate some of the key points mentioned with my work experience of serving in one of the most backward regions of India – Bundhelkhand.  Shared below are some key reflections.

The Sustainable Development Goals came out in 2015 and goal number five is for gender equality making it a core development objective.  As the report says, gender equality is about smart economics as it has multiple outcomes.

It helps in improving the life and standard of the next generation. Women with equal financial control will spend more on children benefits. Usually in developing countries such as India, the women works the whole day with her husband and wages for both is taken by the husband as he is the head of the family. Men usually spend it on liquor, gambling, smoking or buying things for agriculture. However, if the woman handles cash she ensures good food and healthcare of family members which in turn helps secure the growing generation.

If women’s skills and talents are used properly then they can serve as more efficient and effective labor. In my country barriers still persist as to which sectors women can work. This limits their choices. Also the belief that girls should not be educated and skilled as they will eventually get married and leave home persists in rural India and thus families are hesitant to spend money on girls. Today women constitute almost 40% of the global labor force. It’s high time we play smart economics.

It will also help women have a say in the decision making process. During my work in villages, I would notice that men would usually attend meetings with policy makers and request for better agricultural tools, water for irrigation, electricity and much more. When I would talk to the women, they would ask for a toilet to be built so that they don’t have to go out at night to use washroom. This would improve their hygiene conditions and in turn bettering the hygiene of the family.