6 Promote gender equality and empower women

Where are we?

UN South Sudan
Photo: Paul Banks/UN
  • The ratio of girls to boys enrolled in primary school continues to improve in many African countries, and almost half the countries in Africa have achieved gender parity (girls’ enrolment is almost the same as boys’ enrolment).
  • Although women’s share of paid employment outside agriculture increased from 35 per cent to 40 per cent over 1990–2010, African women’s employment in the nonagriculture sector is lower than in other region. 

Women across Africa are becoming more empowered, with more girls attending both primary and secondary school and more women in positions of political power. Nearly half the countries in Africa have achieved gender parity in primary school, and while parity at the secondary and tertiary levels has improved, limited data makes measuring progress difficult. At nearly 20 per cent in 2012, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments in Africa is surpassed only in Latin America and the Caribbean.

While Africa is making great strides towards Goal 3, early marriage, household power dynamics and low economic opportunities for women are slowing progress. These challenges must be addressed for Africa to reach all the targets and indicators by 2015.

Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments

Africa is making steadier progress on increasing the proportion of seats held by women in nation- al parliament than are other regions. In 2012, only Latin America and developed regions surpassed its achievement. 

UNDP's work in Africa

1.29 years
remaining
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG3
  1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
    • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament