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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UNDP and World Bank Reports on Human Development

Since 1990 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has published a yearly report on the state of human development in the world.  Starting from a pre-defined set of indicators the UN gathers information from a variety of sources to determine how individual countries are doing and how the world overall is progressing (or not).  They have a very cool map here where you can call up an indicator like healthcare spending and search their database to see how different countries in the world stack up.  

Their 2011 Human Development Report is out and you can download a copy from their website in a wide variety of languages.  Their emphasis this year is on "Sustainability and Equity" - not just for the living but for the yet to be born:
This year we explore the intersections between environmental sustainability and equity, which are fundamentally similar in their concern for distributive justice. We value sustainability because future generations should have at least the same possibilities as people today. Similarly, all inequitable processes are unjust: people’s chances at better lives should not be constrained by factors outside their control. Inequalities are especially unjust when particular groups, whether because of gender, race or birthplace, are systematically disadvantaged.
Sustainable human development is the expansion of the substantive freedoms of people today while making reasonable efforts to avoid seriously compromising those of future generations.

The World Development Report 2012 from the World Bank is good one to read in conjunction with the UNDP report.  Their focus this year is on "Gender Equality and Development."  As much as we like to cite extraordinary progress in developed countries to reduce gender inequality, women are still "systematically disadvantaged" in many parts of the world.  Here is Ana Revenga explaining why this is not just an issue of basic fairness (equity) but an economic issue:

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Anonymous said...

I have worked on both sides of the gender divide. same person with same skills and experience but value signifcantly downgraded as I transitioned from male to female.
It is not just gender, much of the world dismisses the potential of the individual because of race, religion, or ethnicity We solve problems with the efficiency of an eight cylinder car sputtering on two cylinders

Victoria FERAUGE said...

I could not agree with you more. I have a friend looking for work right now and if you took her name off the CV (name that signals both her ethnicity and her gender) she would be swamped with offers. She speaks four languages fluently and has an advanced engineering degree. As it stands right now she is unemployed.

Boggles the mind, doesn't it?