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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Post-2015 Consensus: Gender Equality Viewpoint, Nordlund

Viewpoint Paper

Nordlund considers that the MDG indicators have not been set effectively, targeting mainly the effects rather than causes of inequalities. The SDGs should be better, and the cost-benefit analysis of Figueras is certainly a useful input. However, we cannot simply exclude human rights because they are not amenable to economic analysis.

The effects of inequalities can be compared to a weed that spread relentlessly and takes the light and energy from other plants. The causes lie in the roots, expressions such as gender-based violence are the stems and the leaves are the consequences, including lack of economic development. Figueras tries to measure the consequences, but the cost-benefit approach is problematic because, for example, it values a developing country rape lower than one in a rich country.

Neither the MDGs nor the SDGs seek to provide indicators for the causes of inequality, which requires tracking of human behavior rather than measuring such factors as school attendance. Assuming the new goals are structured in the same way as the MDGs, gender would probably best be promoted via formulation of goals and indicators that oblige decision-makers to prioritise this issue. Indicators of the causes of inequality should complement those that track expression and effects. Norms and stereotypes are difficult to change, but consciousness of them is imperative to reach gender equality.