You Get What You Pay For 2010
WILPF members attending the 54th meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women push to reallocate government dollars from military expenditures to basic human needs. A pamphlet produced as the result of our strategizing at the International Board meeting about how to unify WILPF's talking points is available: Click here to view or download the pamphlet as a pdf file.
Disarming for gender equality
Achieving universal gender equality is an ambitious goal, one that has been articulated in the UN Charter and many resolutions, conference outcome documents and decisions of governments. It will require a shift in the way we think about gender roles and in the relationship between men and women, boys and girls. Legislation needs to be changed, as well as social attitudes and norms.
Serious financial resources will need to be made available. Compared to military spending, however, the amount required seems ridiculously small. In 2008 the world’s military expenditure was estimated to be US$ 1,464 billion USD or 217 USD per capita. Funding gender equality, as set out in the Millennium Development Goals, costs less than 20 percent of military spending.
The cost of achieving gender equality
Reducing the gender gap at all levels of education is one indicator of gender equality. Meeting the target of gender parity in secondary education would cost about US$ 3 billion in additional resources.
This equals to less than the cost of 9 days occupying Iraq (or four days depending on who you ask). Providing sexual and reproductive health services is also essential to expand the life choices available to women, as well as to reach the goal of reduced maternal mortality.
The annual cost for a basic package of sexual and reproductive health services is estimated to be US$ 36 billion3, which is only slightly more than what the UK spends on military personnel and equipment in a year.
The Millennium Development Goals and gender equality
According to the World Bank, 35-52 percent of the total funding required to fulfill the MillenniumDevelopment Goals will directly or indirectly facilitate the achievement of gender equality objectives. Investments aimed at increasing gender equality need to be directed towards all sectors of society. The World Bank estimates that over 90 percent of the costs associated with achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment are in fact implemented through sector programs, and it is absolutely necessary for governments to invest in gender equality interventions if they hope to achieve the other Millennium Development Goals. It is possible to reach the Millennium Development Goals, but in order to do so, governments have to fulfill their promises to increase their official development assistance. The amountnecessary for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals was estimated to be US$ 135 billion in 2006, rising to 195 billion in 2015. These figures are respectively equivalent to 0.44 and 0.54 percent of donor GNP.