Women, rural communities most affected by human exclusion

ECA- Lusaka 15 October 2015 - Women and rural communities have borne the most of human exclusion in southern Africa. This is according to African Social Development Index – ASDI whose preliminary findings reveal that human exclusion is predominantly a female and rural phenomenon. Meanwhile poverty remains the single most driver of exclusion in the region followed by youth unemployment, education and survivor.

The ASDI is a new tool developed by the UN Economic Commission for Africa – ECA to help member states track and measure human exclusion for structural transformation.

The report says that women and girls are affected by vulnerabilities differently from their male counterparts which critically affect their future development and ability to participate in social, economic and decision-making processes. “Some of these differences are intrinsic to gender, while others are the result of cultural biases and social factors which can affect women through their circle of life” reads the report, further arguing that “women and girls generally bear the brunt of unpaid care work; are generally paid lower wages, suffer more than boys the truncated education and are likely to enter into informal unskilled labour and are more often victims of exploitation, violence or early marriages.

The report also reveals higher levels of human exclusion in rural areas. "Patterns of exclusion are also influenced by the geographical location in which an individual was born" reads the report, adding that people in the rural areas lack the basic social and economic infrastructure and basic services "that would allow them to develop their full potential." However cities are also increasingly faced with a host of challenges from slams, congestion, poor infrastructure, to environmental and health hazards.

In his opening remarks, at the presentation of the sub-regional report for southern Africa, in Lusaka Zambia, ECA Southern Africa Sub-regional Director, Said Adejumobi said that the ASDI was not an end in itself but a foundation for policy mapping through monitoring of social policies for inclusive development. “The ASDI should be seen as support to member States in tracking what worked and what has not in the social policy arena” he said.

The southern Africa ASDI report comprises of eight countries including Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia. There are variations between and within countries. The human exclusion in Botswana is higher in rural areas, than cities with infant mortality and youth unemployment as major drivers. Zambia and Malawi showed higher exclusion in cities than in rural areas with poverty and youth unemployment as major drivers.

The ASDI defines human exclusion as the result of social, economic, political, institutional and cultural barriers that are manifested in deprived human conditions and that limit the capacity of individuals to benefit and contribute to economic growth.

The report concludes that exclusion is structural and can be redressed by country-specific exclusion patterns, through effective policy formulation. The challenge for African countries is therefore to accelerate the path of structural transformation, while addressing the factors that contribute to exclusion reads the report.