This paper explores the state of gender equality and education attainment of girls in Niger. It also estimates the macroeconomic gains from reducing gaps in education between boys and girls using a micro-founded general equilibrium model. The analysis shows that Niger has made some progress toward higher educational attainment for girls, but the country still lags far behind other sub-Saharan African countries. The results from the general equilibrium model suggest that closing the gender gaps in education would boost female labor participation, increase income earned by women and improve fiscal outcomes. More importantly, closing the gender gap in years of schooling in each income percentile would boost long-term GDP by 11 percent. These significant economic gains from investing in girls’ education will contribute to the achievements of the strategic goals defined under the Programme de Développement Economique et Social (PDES) 2022-26.
This paper identifies five key issues that are important for the continued efforts to tackle gender inequality: (i) gender inequality needs to be distinguished from gender gaps. Not all gender gaps necessarily reflect gender inequality as some gender gaps are not driven by the lack of equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities bywomen and girls, and this has important implications on policy designs to address gender inequity. However, the literature has paid little attention to this issue, often using gender inequality and gender gaps interchangeably; (ii) the evolving focus of gender inequality suggests there is still a long way to go to fully address gender inequality. Particularly gender inequality is taking more subtle and implicit forms, though the social and economic benefits from addressing the remaininggender inequality is still likely to be substantial; (iii) addressing gender inequality benefits everyone, not just women. Thus, the entire society should work together, even for each individual’s own interest; (iv) both general policies and targeted gender policies can help address gender inequality.However, as gender inequality becomes more subtle and implicit, targeted gender policies will likely need to play an increasing role, which also makes separating gender inequality from gender gaps all that more important; and (v) addressing gender inequality does not need to start with policies targeted at its root causes, but needs to end with eliminating the root causes. Only then, any remaining gender gaps would only reflect preference and comparative advantage between men and women. The paper concludes by discussing gaps in the literature and policy challenges going forward.