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Inequality—regardless of the type—is the product of a range of forces in society that interact and create sets of constraints or behavioural boundaries for individuals. These constraints and boundaries limit options, access to resources and choices.

Gender inequality is one such force that results in constraints and boundaries for half the world’s population. Many of the inequalities in sexual and reproductive health and rights are intertwined with, or even driven by, gender inequality.

Worldwide, women’s earnings are lower than those of men. Lower earnings stem from gender inequality in education and health, and from unequal protection of rights. These inequalities result in diminished capacities for women, as well as in a more limited range of options and opportunities for jobs and livelihoods.

And, with lower earnings, women have fewer resources for critical services, such as family planning, which could empower them to enter the labour force and earn more once they are employed. This situation sets off a vicious cycle that can prevent women, their children and their children’s children from rising out of poverty.