Girls' school by Jan Josef Horemans the Younger (1714-1790) (http://www.hampel-auctions.com/) {{pd-old}}, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The World Bank’s annual report World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development published on  September 19th  surprises by its findings, particularly when reporting  4 million excess of female deaths worldwide: “4 million girls and women are missing in developing countries as compared with their counterparts in developed countries” said Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank. 4 million is a lot! This is roughly the equivalent of  the population of Los Angeles going missing each year!

40% of these 4 million women and girls are just never born because they are female fetuses (e.g gender-selective abortion now practiced in many parts of the world, including Europe). Over a third of these 4 million women continue to die prematurely with respect to men during their reproductive years.

Addressing the fundamental gender inequalities highlighted in the report is identified as key in ensuring a path to development.  The recommendations of the report include measures improving education and involvement of women in decision-making at various levels of the society.  Such measures are quantitatively shown to benefit the development of the society as a whole over time. In today’s highly competitive globalized world, besides being wrong, gender inequality and the neglect of the potential of 50% of the population is simply bad economics.

To read more of the report see: http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTRESEARCH/EXTWDRS/EXTWDR2012/0,,contentMDK:22999750%7EpagePK:64167689%7EpiPK:64167673%7EtheSitePK:7778063,00.html

Dr. Lydia Bourouiba is a physical applied mathematician, particularly interested in solving problems with applications in environmental and biological sciences. She completed her doctorate at McGill University in 2008 and is currently an instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she can combine her research on problems at the interface between mathematics and disease epidemiology and teaching mathematics.

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