Common Policy Issues: Gender Issues

You may think that women’s rights are only an issue in countries where religion is law, such as many Muslim countries.  Or even worse, some may think this is no longer an issue at all.  The importance of women’s rights and gender equality should not be underestimated as it furthers the cause of child survival and development for all society.  Some important issues facing gender equality include: unequal pay, gender discrimination, poverty, lack of education opportunities, reproductive rights/population issues, and lack of healthcare.

Questions to consider:

  • What issues concerning women might countries look at to develop policies?


Global Gender Discrimination Throughout a Lifetime
Feticide and infanticide Economic or cultural preference for sons; misuse of pregnancy diagnostic tools can facilitate female feticide.
The middle years


Lack of access to, and completion of, quality primary and secondary education. With a few exceptions, it is mostly girls who suffer from educational disadvantage.


Among the greatest threats to adolescent development are abuse, exploitation and violence, and the lack of vital knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS.
Motherhood and old age Women die in childbirth, particularly in developing countries, as a result of lack of basic healthcare. Elderly women face double discrimination on the basis of both gender and age. As a result, many face poverty.

Gender Discrimination and Climate Change

gender discrimination Image is teacher-created

Estimated earnings for women are substantially lower than for men.
Global Region Percentage of Men’s Earnings
Industrialized Nations 57%
Sub-Saharan Africa 51%
Middle East and North Africa 28%
Latin America and Caribbean 40%

Source: UNICEF State of the World’s Children 2007, p 41, Figure 3.3

Review Questions

Gender discrimination is evident in all of the core countries.
Policies that correct gender discrimination include guarantee to basic healthcare.
Lack of gender equality leads to poverty for women and children.
Only Muslim countries practice gender discrimination.

Click on the question to reveal the answer.

Lack of employment opportunities is one factor that keeps women in _________.