￼Irish Aid recognises that ‘sustainable development is only attainable when the needs and interests of both men and women are fully recognised’.
Gender inequality primarily affects women: they experience poverty differently from men because they are denied equal rights and opportunities, lack access to resources and services and are excluded from important decisions that affect their lives and development.’ (IA Gender Equality Policy, pp. 7) Gender inequality remains pervasive worldwide and is a key factor in the persistence of poverty.
Gender inequality negatively affects women more than men, and due to their resulting unequal status in society, women are disproportionately affected by poverty. There are huge inequalities between men and women’s control of, access to and benefit from natural resources. These disparities between men and women adversely affect the quality of life for society as a whole, hinder development and impede poverty reduction.
A full understanding of the gender dimensions of poverty and of the inequalities which determine women’s disadvantaged position in society is necessary if the rights and needs of women and men are to be met equally and sustainable development is to be achieved. Approaches, which address these inequalities by empowering women and achieving gender equality, should be central to strategies to reduce poverty.