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Lisa L Kolovich and Monique Newiak

Abstract

Efforts to achieve gender equality will not only help sub-Saharan Africa revive its inclusive growth engine but also will ensure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and help address the main disruptive challenges of this century. This book explores the progress made in gender equality in the region, highlighting both the challenges and successes in areas such as legal reforms; education; health; gender-based violence; harmful practices, such as child marriage; and financial inclusion. It takes stock of initiatives towards integrating gender into core macroeconomic and structural reforms, such as through implementing gender budgeting and examines the role that fiscal and other policies can play in closing gender gaps when they are mindful of distributional impacts. Drawing from extensive research across different institutions, the book underscores the macroeconomic significance of gender equality, emphasizing its potential to drive GDP growth, enhance economic stability, reduce income inequality, and foster sustainable development. It lays out how gender gaps interact with emerging challenges, such as digitalization, and explores the impact of global megatrends, such as climate change, on gender inequality, offering strategies for inclusive policy responses—including in a context where women and girls are still carrying a disproportionate care burden that is often not captured in economic measurement. The book aims to serve as a roadmap for policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates seeking to harness the untapped potential of gender equality—for its own sake and for the region's inclusive, sustainable, and green development. It calls for concerted efforts to dismantle structural barriers, transform social norms, and prioritize gender-responsive policies to unlock the full economic potential of sub-Saharan Africa.