Inequality, not just under-development

Brian Whitaker notices something important in the latest UN Human Development Report:

Behind the headline figures, though, there's a more disturbing picture. This year, for the first time, the UN has tried to take inequalities into account, and it's an area where the Arab countries, taken as a whole, perform especially badly. In the inequality-adjusted index, Arab states suffer a loss of 28%. "Only sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia had greater losses due to inequality in general," the UN says, adding: "The Arab countries collectively had the highest overall loss of any region in the education dimension: 43%." This is largely due to gender inequality. Only 32% of women in the region over the age of 25 have completed secondary education, compared to 45% of men, the report says. University enrolment however, shows the reverse pattern, with 132 women for every 100 men. The Arab states also perform far worse than any other region of the world in terms of gender inequality in the labour market (table 5.5).

 

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.