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World Bank Report Examines Gender Equality, Highlights Mortality Disparity Between Men And Women

The World Bank’s annual World Development Report, which was released on Sunday and this year “focuses on gender equality around the world, offers some stark facts about how women and girls fare in developing countries despite decades of progress,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Reddy, 9/18). “The most glaring disparity is the rate at which girls and women die relative to men in developing countries, according to” the report, Reuters/AlertNet reports (Curtis, 9/19).

Despite gains in life expectancy, enrollment in education and more job opportunities for women, “the bank warns that local attitudes and customs often prevent them realizing their potential,” according to the Financial Times. According to the newspaper, the report “argues that governments can improve gender equality with basic services such as clean water, which reduces maternal mortality, and by tackling long-held prejudices and customs about women entering the workforce or particular occupations” (Beattle, 9/19).

According to the report, there are nearly four million “‘missing women’ in the world — that is, women who have died because the rate of female mortality is disproportionately high compared with men’s or because fetuses were aborted before birth simply because they were female,” the Economist’s “Newsbook” blog reports, adding, “The figure is higher than had been previously thought” (9/19). “About two-fifths [of women] are never born due to a preference for sons, a sixth die in early childhood, and over a third die in their reproductive years. These losses are growing in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in countries hard-hit by HIV/AIDS,” a World Bank press release states (9/18).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.