United Nations estimates suggest: that up to 70% of the world's
poor are female.
Gender discrimination is the world ''s most widespread form of
Women's inequality is a key-obstacle to development and a major
cause of social injustice.
Women in the developing world play a vital role. They manage
community resources, help protect the environment, maintain peace and keep
societies together. They make up most of the labour force. They are responsible
for bringing up children and passing on knowledge to the next generation. But
most women's work is unpaid and unacknowledged.
Women are poorly represented in positions of power. Their
opportunities to act on their own behalf are often severely limited. Where they
do try to assert their rights, they are often met with strong opposition and
sometimes intimidation and violence.
Calls for change in the social, economic, and political
relations between the sexes and an end to gender discrimination are being voiced
increasingly strongly. These calls have been echoed in international meetings
and agreements, most notably the Global Platform for Action agreed at the I995
World Conference on Women at Beijing. They are also reflected in the
International Development Targets for the 2Ist Century.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is committed
to women's equality. World poverty cannot be eliminated without it. This booklet
describes our policy and gives examples of how we put this into practice. We are
making good progress, but there is still a long way to go and many lessons to be