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Gender inequality is a global issue,
it manifests in several dimensions, persists within and across all societies, and
is a major impediment to sustainable social progress. Despite the advancement in
the last 20 years, stark disparities remain in access to higher levels of
education, which translates to disparities within the political sphere (UNESCO,
2016). Unequal opportunities and access for women in education is a violation
of human rights, and individual and societal well-being, aspects central to SSD.
On an individual basis, it reduces the amount of control women have over their
lives, excluding them from certain employment opportunities (RSG, 2015). On a
societal scale, these gender gaps have long-term effects in effectively every
sphere of life, they reduce human capital within a society, damaging economic and
social progression by limiting the pool of talent from which employers can draw
(Khayria and Feki, 2015). Moreover, a study by Klasen and Lamanna (2009) found
that increasing the number of higher-educated women would contribute to the
wellbeing of the next generation by reducing birth rates and infant mortality, highlighting
how such gender discrepancies hinder the long-term sustainability aspect of
social development. Gender disparities in education have knock-on effects on
the representation of women within the political sphere. For example, even in
countries where women have the right to vote, they may choose not to due to
their illiteracy and misunderstanding of the voting system. Devlin and Elgie
(2008) highlighted that increased women’s representation in Rwanda (now the
highest female parliament representation in the world at 48.7%) has led to important
health issues such as HIV/AIDS being added to the policy agenda. Moreover, Ross
(2002) found that higher female representation in the South African parliament
has translated into a greater quantity and swifter passing of women-centred
policies regarding violence against women, gender discrimination, and property
rights. Thus, inequalities within the education system which can translate into
the political sphere not only limit women’s’ individual decision-making power
in public life, but is also detrimental to society at large, as positive
effects on socio-economic outcomes, health and education are stalled. Gender gaps
present in education essentially reduce the benefits that the higher education
of women brings to society, and consequently SSD is delayed, as half of the
population; a) needs are not met b) talent is not utilised and c) are excluded
from decision-making processes. 

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