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Finance & Development
A quarterly magazine of the IMF
June 2007, Volume 44, Number 2

From the Editor

A woman's touch

A hot topic at summits of global leaders over the past few years has been how the global community is doing in its efforts to meet the eight 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—especially those that deal with poverty, hunger, health, education, and the environment. But little discussed is MDG3, which calls for redressing gender disparities and empowering women. The June 2007 issue of F&D spotlights gender equality, asking why it matters. We learn that not only is MDG3 a vital development objective but it is also key to achieving several others—such as universal primary education (MDG2), a reduction in under-5 mortality (MDG4), improvements in maternal health (MDG5), and a reduced possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS (MDG6). Moreover, greater gender equality can also help to reduce poverty (MDG1) and promote growth.

As for how countries are doing in meeting MDG3, we learn that there's reason to worry that the four official indicators being used to track progress are inadequate—a startling revelation given that there are only eight years left to meet the goal. And to the extent that progress can be tracked, the results aren't encouraging. One of the hardest-hit groups is the 30 million "excluded" girls, who aren't even enrolled in school. These girls face discrimination and indifference in their own countries because they come from ethnic minorities, isolated clans, and groups in which the majority language isn't predominant. One way for countries to pinpoint policies needed to reduce gender disparities is through gender budgeting, which involves the systematic examination of budget programs and policies for their impact on women. As "Budgeting with Women in Mind" explains, this effort to mainstream gender analysis into government policies has gained prominence in recent years.

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Also in the June issue, we look at Asia—a star performer in the global economy—10 years after the Asian financial crisis. A series of articles explores what Asia needs to do to hold onto regained ground and become an ever-greater economic force. An IMF review focuses on two of the challenges facing the region: addressing worsening income inequality and learning to live with potentially unstable capital flows. From Korea, Un-Chan Chung, a former presidential candidate and professor at Seoul National University, calls for a "new social compact" if the globalized system is to achieve success in Korea—and perhaps in other Asian countries as well. And from Malaysia, Central Bank Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz stresses that "Asia's increasing role in the global economy further reinforces the need for it to have a commensurate voice and representation in the international financial community." Finally, F&D explores the deepening involvement of Asia—especially China—with sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) on the trade, investment, and aid fronts. China is now SSA's single largest Asian trading partner and its fastest-growing trading destination.

Laura Wallace