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close this bookToward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)
close this folderChapter three
View the documentPublic Policies Matter
View the documentEqualizing Opportunities by Modifying, the Legal Framework
View the documentLand and Property Rights
View the documentLabor Market Policies and Employment Law
View the documentFamily Law
View the documentWomen's bargaining position in relation to household
View the documentFinancial Laws and Regulations
View the documentMacroeconomic: Policies
View the documentInflation tends to hit women harder than men.
View the documentSectoral Investments
View the documentUsing Targeting Measures to Narrow the Gender
View the documentInvolving Beneficiaries in Public Policy
View the documentGenerating and Analyzing Gender-Desegregated Data
View the documentWorking in Collaboration
View the documentStrengthening International Policies to Meet New Challenges
View the documentConclusions


This chapter has presented the rationale for public interventions to promote gender equality. Such interventions are needed because of market failures and social externalities that extend beyond the individual household to affect society in general. For resources to be allocated efficiently, public spending should focus on those investments with the highest social returns. Given the evidence of high social and private returns to investments in women's human capital, public expenditures should give priority to the investments that have the largest impact on the welfare of girls and women, especially in basic education and reproductive and other health care services. Policymakers also need to identify areas in which actions can be taken that would have gender neutral outcomes, including sectoral programs addressing transport and infrastructure, water supply. and sanitation

BY directing public resource toward policies and projects that reduce gender inequality policy markers are promoting not only equality today but also higher labor productivity

Governments can no longer afford not to invest in women. The evidence on private and social returns to investments in women and girls cannot be ignored. By directing public resources toward policies and projects that reduce gender inequality, policy makers are promoted not only equality today but also higher labor productivity, a higher rate of human capital formation, slower population growth. and stronger economic growth tomorrows However, none of these goals can be reached without the participation of women themselves. Governments and collaborating institutions must listen carefully to the voices of individual women, to women s groups, and to woman policymakers By working with others to identify and implement policies for greater gander equality, governments can take actions that will make a real difference to the future well-being and prosperity of their people.