Gender Inequality Index

Click here for links on/for the 2013 Gender Inequality Index

Click here for links on/for the 2012 Gender Inequality Index

Although many of the links in the comments below (mostly on/for grassroots organizations) still work, the UNDP keeps changing the URLs for the links just below in the main post here and I have stopped updating to keep up with them. All the UNDP links above for the 2012 and 2013 Gender Inequality Indexes currently work.

Apparently, the recently released 2010 Human Development Report (HDR) added three new indices to the Human Development Index (HDI). They are The Multidimensional Poverty Index, The Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, and the Gender Inequality Index.

The Gender Inequality Index ranks countries by taking account of five indicators: 1) maternal mortality ratio, 2) adolescent fertility rate, 3) the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex, 4) secondary and higher education attainment levels, and 5) by women’s participation in the work force.

This index is (supposed to be) “a composite measure reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market.”

Saudi Arabia, which ranks 55 in the “high human development” category, ranks 128 in the Gender Inequality Index.

Here is the new Gender Inequality Index:
…link deleted, see above…

Here is the Human Development Report webpage on it:
…link deleted, see above…

Many details here for different interpretations in different ways…

…Update from 2012 (and comment #70 below):

Out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index, the United States ranks 47, the United Kingdom ranks 34, and Canada ranks 20 in the 2011 Gender Inequality Index.

You can download a PDF of the 2011 Gender Inequality Index (with rank and indicators listed in the order of the more comprehensive Human Development Index) by clicking and/or saving here:
…link deleted, see above…

You can download a PDF that provides a graphical presentation of the human development indices, including the gender inequality indicators, here:
…link deleted, see above…

You can download a PDF of Frequently Asked Questions about the Gender Inequality Index here:
…link deleted, see above…

79 thoughts on “Gender Inequality Index

  1. How much did it cost to generate these new indices? Could that money do more good by empowering local, grass roots, community organizations instead of the (usually very wealthy?) professionals who developed these indices? For some examples, see comments 7, 17, 20, 28, 43, 46, and 52 below, and/or my webpage on moral heroes for some more:

    How much money do we spend flying (often and comparatively) highly paid human rights experts (philosophers, political scientists, lawyers, etc.) around the world to discuss human rights at conferences in nice hotels instead of funding local people on the ground already working on these matters from the inside but without sufficient resources, funds, and support? Or will the new HDI really trickle down to or otherwise better help them?
    – This is a sincere question. Can anyone explain?

  2. Thank you for your comment jj. I really like it, though I think there is some room for reasonable disagreement. In many cases, the wants and needs of workers on the ground are different from the provisions/work of outside experts. I do not mean to paint a divide or discuss a dichotomy between localized grassroots advocacy and seemingly institutionalized elite human rights work. Rather, I know of many cases where the two do not meet and I wish for ways to bring them together. Eventually I hope to develop work in progress on this to the point worthy of attention and post it here:

    For now, I guess I am more skeptical than you of the productiveness and applicability of (at least some of) what goes on at many (or at least some) of these meetings (perhaps we are thinking of different ones), though I think and hope that we agree more than disagree.

  3. David, I was trying to be careful to talk about what the big conferences can do, and I did point out obstacles to the progress. I’m not sure I’m in any position to generalize about their success. I do know people who have found work with UH Commissions intensely frustrating, and that might be the sort of problem you have in mind. Too often, though, the solution of handing it over to local activists isn’t viable.

    One aspect of the local problem made water distributin a feminist issue, since it turned out that the woman in many developing countries are the ones who understand water needs, but the resources were allocated to the men, who used them for their very different goals.

    But then that experienced produce a lot of reflection on the parts of management groups who advise funding agencies.

    It’s probably not terribly fruitful to go on without examples.

  4. “Too often, grandiose aid projects are imposed on poor countries without the technical assistance or cash for spare parts to keep them working. Raymond Whitaker reports on a ground-up approach”

    “The charity’s approach, based on asking local people what they need and helping them find solutions rather than prescribing to them, means that it often works with the least privileged communities. In Nepal many of its beneficiaries are Dalits, formerly known as “untouchable” under the caste system. Although Practical Action does not specifically target women, in Bangladesh its work with landless people benefits many widows. In Sri Lanka, which is recovering from the 2004 tsunami and a savage civil war, several of its projects help the disabled.”

    “Practical Action has a unique approach to development – we don’t start with technology, but with people. The tools may be simple or sophisticated – but to provide long-term, appropriate and practical answers, they must be firmly in the hands of local people: people who shape technology and control it for themselves.”

  5. The headscarf is not about freedom

    “Questioning the headscarf is not the same as advocating bans, or barring headscarf-wearing women from work. Bans are undemocratic and usually counterproductive. It is about coaxing women out of this highly questionable and harmful practice that hampers their social advancement and prevents them from enjoying their humanity fully, of which their bodies are an inextricable part. Eschewing the headscarf is not a strike against Islam or Turkish culture. It is about a woman’s desire for progress, freedom and achievement.”

  6. Tackling gender inequality in Vietnam

    “Poverty and cultural attitudes in Vietnam mean many women still die in childbirth, female foetuses are aborted and sex is a taboo subject”

    Vietnam leads region in gender gap eradication

    Conference on women’s role in int’l integration

  7. Kids Vote to Choose Development Projects in 12 Countries

    “Kids to Kids, founded in 2005 by four middle school aged girls from Massachusetts, funds arts, sports, education and environmental projects aimed at creating opportunities for kids in underserved communities in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. The goal of Kids to Kids is to engage and motivate youth around the world towards happy and healthy futures by empowering them to make positive impacts in the lives of other kids, encouraging a new generation of leaders and global citizens.”

    Development efforts must include steps to end violence against women – UN expert

    An inspiration to us all

    “When Odette Kayirere lost her husband in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, she felt angry and hopeless. But she stepped beyond her grief to work with her fellow widows, first to make a better life for herself and her children and then to help form an organisation for 4,000 women.”

    Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women

    The Three Michelles: Music to My Ears This Holiday

    Dilma Rousseff: Her own woman
    Will Brazil’s first female president bring change, or is she just ‘Lula in a skirt’?

  8. Women urged to watch role models

    TEDWomen Conference [more false consciousness, or good work?]
    “How are women and girls reshaping the future? The first-ever TEDWomen invites men and women to explore this question in depth. From the developing world, where a single microloan to a single girl can transform a village, to the West, where generations of educated women are transforming entire industries, women are powerful change agents, intellectual innovators, idea champions …”

    “Over the past several years, a flood of fascinating data from the worlds of education, microfinance and more has shown an essential link between investing in women and girls and economic growth, public health, political stability. A new lens reveals women as powerful change agents in developing nations; meanwhile, in the West, generations of educated women are forging new directions in the sciences, arts, business and beyond.”

  9. Academic [Ron Duncan, ANU] dismisses UN development index

    “I see the HDI as essentially an exercise in naming and shaming … built on weak foundations,” he said.

    “(It) is not terribly effective in terms of country management … so you’ve got diminishing returns for a fairly high-cost exercise.”

    For a sample of related discussion by key figures, interested readers might want to check out the following exchange from a 2004 volume (26, issues 1 and 4) of the Human Rights Quarterly:

    Defending Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Practical Issues Faced by an International Human Rights Organization, by Kenneth Roth

    How International Human Rights Organizations Can Advance Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Response to Kenneth Roth, by Leonard S. Rubenstein, …and

    Advancing Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: The Way Forward, by Mary Robinson, …and

    Response to Leonard S. Rubenstein, by Kenneth Roth, …and

    Response by Leonard S. Rubenstein, by Leonard S. Rubenstein, …in:

  10. Gender discrimination in India: a reality check

    Hand in Hand

    “Hand in Hand’s aim is to eliminate poverty through an integrated community development programme.”

    Our work is founded on the concept of help to self-help, through participation at the grassroots level. We believe there should be social, economic, and environmental sustainability in everything we do, and our work is aligned with the UN Millennium Development Goals.”

  11. Pink deluge a lesson in inequality

    “Such are the ironies of life: Australia has its first female prime minister and simultaneously a gap between men’s and women’s pay that is hardly better than what it was nearly 20 years ago. One step forward, two steps back.

    Progress on the long road to equality is infuriatingly slow. It has been 38 years since the decision to grant equal pay for equal value, yet pay parity remains pitifully elusive.”

  12. Gender Wage Gap Shrinks in Canada

    full report from Statistics Canada: Why has the gender wage gap narrowed?

    Apparent snippets:
    The gender wage gap has narrowed in the past two decades but a woman in Canada still makes roughly 17 cents less on every dollar for doing the same job as a man…

    Since 1988, things have improved for professional women as the wage gap continues to narrow steadily. Women are now earning 83.3 cents in wages for every $1 dollar earned by men, up from just 75.7 cents in 1988.

    Over the 20-year period, the gulf narrowed in all age categories as wage increases for women outpaced increases for men, though older women made the biggest strides, the study written by Marie Drolet says. On average, real wages for women rose nearly 12%, while men saw wages creep forward 1.3%. Women aged 45 to 49 saw wages go up nearly 18%.

  13. New data on gender segregation and pay disparities in jobs

    “Last week, the Census Bureau released new American Community Survey data covering the period 2005 to 2009. Remapping Debate has now taken those data to analyze gender segregation and pay disparities in jobs, and its data visualizations provide the first snapshot published.”

    “Remapping Debate’s analysis reveals striking differences between working men and women. Within a single occupation, median pay for men almost always exceeds that for women, often by a substantial amount. Furthermore, the median wages in jobs dominated by men are higher than in those occupations dominated by women.

    “In the top 25 highest-paying occupations, ranked by median earnings of men, the median earnings of women are less than 90 percent of those of men in all but two cases.

    “For occupations of more than 100,000 workers:
    “In occupations in which men accounted for more than 90 percent of the workforce, the median income of men always exceeds that of women, and in most cases the earnings of women are less than 90 percent that of men. Additionally, of jobs dominated by men, there are 20 occupations in which the median earnings for men exceed $40,000 per year.

    “In occupations dominated by women, jobs in which women are at least 75 percent of workers, women always earned less than men. In contrast to those occupations dominated by men, in jobs with more than 75 percent of workers being women, there are only 5 which have a median annual pay for women over $40,000.”

  14. not so new, but still welcome:

    Mobile Phones for Women: A New Approach for Social Welfare in the Developing World
    “Telecoms, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits are pushing to put mobile phones directly in the hands of women in low- and middle-income countries”

    is it just me, or is this next kind of story getting old (and still backwards in various possible ways)?

    Gender pay gap ‘down to women’s lifestyle choices’

  15. ‘In the past, decisions about food rested with men. Now women are able to talk’

    “The people of a small village in the centre of the country [Malawi] are discovering that reducing gender imbalances between men and women may be the most effective tool in the fight against hunger…”

    “Changing behaviour in a rigidly patriarchal society such as Malawi’s is difficult. In the past aid agencies tried to improve the status of women by empowering them to challenge their husbands’ authority.

    “The fundamental flaw in that approach is that it fails to engage men, says Dr Vincent O’Neill, head of development with Irish Aid in Lilongwe, the capital. …

    “Rather than having one programme for women and one for men, we bring them together at all levels. And the most important level here is food. So we try to get men and women to work together.” …

  16. Women Ascend in Latin America

    Brazil’s President-Elect Continues a Regional Leadership Trend, Even Amid Persistent Prejudices.

    UN’s new structure to empower women starts operating in January

    Angola joins board of body for gender and equality,d13fb6c6-3cb1-4baa-8beb-e9391cfe43b6.html

    Apparently, Angola currently ranks #146 in the new Gender Inequality Index, located in the “Low Human Development” category. Here is their Freedom House Rating for 2009 (you can find ratings for different regions and years by changing the drop down menus):

    Can Corporations Help Stem Violence Against Women?

    “As a corporate player, we can have this commitment and a legacy to philanthropy, but sitting in an office in New Brunswick or Sao Paulo or Shanghai, we don’t really know what the best interventions are,” she said.

    “Only a handful of grass-roots organizations are supported by the U.N. Trust Fund, which provides money to different groups dealing with violence against women. This year, the U.N. has been able give $10 million, which is less than 3 percent of the worldwide requests.

    The U.N. is trying to raise $100 million annually for the fund by 2015.

    “We are looking to engage more sectors to contribute to this fund because there are many people from civil society who really asked for more funds in order to be able to reach those women and those girls,” said Michelle Bachelet, former Chilean president and now head of the newly created entity, U.N. Women.”

  17. Women for Women International: Helping Women Survivors of War Rebuild Their Lives

    “Our Mission: Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time.”

    “Our Theory of Change: Women for Women International believes that when women are well, sustain an income, are decision-makers, and have strong social networks and safety-nets, they are in a much stronger position to advocate for their rights. This philosophy and our commitment to local leadership builds change and capacity at the grassroots level.”

    “Access to knowledge and expression of voice” + “Access to and control of resources” = “Lasting social and political change”

  18. Employment & Training on Wednesday – Challenging gender stereotypes

    “The EU has been seeking to encourage member states to come up with initiatives to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equality at the workplace. Gender stereotypes both lead to and reinforce existing segregation in the labour market with women continuing to work in jobs and sectors which are often lower valued and lower paid than those where men are the majority. Across Europe, women earn on average 17.8% less than men and in some countries the gender pay gap is widening.”

    Better deal for women

    “In an effort to promote gender equality throughout Viet Nam, a national strategy has been introduced to promote gender equity…”…

    Egypt Women: Postponed rights in 2010

    Women’s rights in Egypt deteriorate in 2010, says report

  19. New classrooms give girls a better education in Afghanistan

    “One thousand new classrooms which are being built in the Afghan capital, Kabul, are expected to give girls a better chance to excel at school. The $24 million dollar programme is expected to contribute to the regeneration of Afghanistan following years of insecurity. Under the former Taliban government, girls were banned from going to school. Daniel Dickinson reports.”

  20. Women’s Role in Economy Critical to Future Growth
    [U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Report]

    “The report makes clear that the persistence of a gender pay gap and the existence of a patchwork social support system harm the economy by limiting women’s purchasing power and depriving employers of females’ full potential as productive workers. It includes a compendium of all JEC reports and hearings from the 111th Congress focused on women’s position in the economy and is designed as a resource for policymakers to help them determine whether policies promote or inhibit women’s ability to be powerful contributors to economic growth.

    “Prepared by the JEC Majority staff at the direction of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the first woman to Chair the JEC, “Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the U.S. Economy” charts the progress women have made in workforce participation, pay, educational attainment, and business ownership, and lays out some of the factors that continue to limit further progress for women and the economy.” …

    full report:

    report highlights:

    press release about report:

  21. Iran’s Grieving Mothers Not Deterred by Armed Suppression

    “A year and a half after the mothers of victims of the presidential election protests in Iran formed the group Grieving Mothers (aka Mothers of Laleh Park), they are now under growing suppression. Only during last week several group members and supporters were summoned to Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. And while two member mothers, Akram Zeinali, the mother of Saeed Zeinali, and Jaleh Mahdavi, the mother of Hesam Tarmasi, were released on bail, two supporters, Neda Mostaghimi and Hakimeh Shekari, are still held in detention.

    “But the question is why the non-violent activities of the Grieving Mothers are perceived by the government as a security threat? Why some of the arrested mothers have been pressured to make televised confessions? The following is an excerpt of an interview that Rooz had with Khadijeh Moghadam, a member of the Committee of Mothers for Peace and an active member of the Grieving Mothers.” …

    Iran revamps education system to strip out Western influence

    Critical readers may wish to note the regretful (and arguably misleading and harmful stereotype reinforcing) remarks about “Islamic values” and “Islamic tenets” in the link below (more people need to read Irshad Manji !):

    Top Iran Prosecutor Vows to Charge Opposition Leaders

  22. Just one in four directors of small firms is a women

    “Only a quarter of directors at Britain’s medium and small-sized firms are women, according to research produced for The Independent on Sunday today.

    “The gender disparity in the UK’s biggest listed companies is well-known, but the survey shows that the problem is also rife in the grassroots businesses that drive the economy…” ….

  23. Although the name of the “Fair & Lovely Foundation” somehow rings the wrong way for me, this organization in India certainly has the right vision/mission of empowering women:

    “It’s our vision to equip women through education, career guidance and skill training in order to help them realize their potential and be independent.”

    212 socio-economically poor girls including several from Andhra Pradesh awarded Fair & Lovely Foundation Scholarships

    “…Fair & Lovely Scholarships awards scholarships to women with aptitude, drive and the ambition to carve a place of pride for themselves in society, but do not have the financial strength to realize their dreams.” …

    “…Fair & Lovely Foundation Scholarship has been doing stellar work in empowering the girl child. It only shows what all Corporate India can do to educate the underprivileged and also contribute in creation of skilled assets for the country.” …

    As this news story states, “…[India] ranks at 122 out of 138 nations on the Gender Inequality Index, with only 27% of adult women having a secondary or higher level of education, compared with 50% of men. The Millennium Goals also stress on gender parity in education, stating that India will have to promote female participation at all lelvels to reach an equal female-male proportion by 2015.” …

  24. Nepali Girls Fight Indentured Servitude with Street Theater

    “What’s even more surprising than the incredible strength and innovation these girls have shown, is that street theater is actually working as a tool to stop kamlari, a practice that has existed for centuries. Over a decade ago, an estimated 14,000 ethnic Tharu girls were victimized in the kamlari system. Today, the U.S.-based Nepal Youth Foundation thinks that number may be as low as 1,000. Most of those 13,000 girls are now in school or working in a trade, earning income to break the cycle of poverty and inequality which would have trapped their daughters as it trapped them. And it has been steady, grassroots pressure — in part realized through street theater and other public demonstrations — that has unseated centuries of sanctioned slavery in Nepal.”

    Nepal Youth Foundation

  25. Fleeing Violent Husbands Puts Afghan Women in Jail

    …A recent report by the United Nations mission in Afghanistan concluded that the government has not done enough to uphold women’s rights since the Taliban’s ouster. The report, based on 150 individual and group interviews in 29 provinces, found that violence against women remains prevalent, to varying degrees, across the country’s regional and ethnic divides. Nationwide, more than half of all girls are married before they turn 15, usually to settle disputes. And authorities’ reluctance to incur the wrath of conservative communities by enforcing laws against domestic violence has led to an increase in “honor killings” and abuse. When women flee family violence, they risk the ire of both their families and the government….,8599,2039564,00.html

  26. Scalia: Constitution Doesn’t Protect Women or Gays from Discrimination

    There He Goes Again

    “…Fortunately, Justice Scalia’s views on women are not the law of the land.

    In a slew of rulings since 1971, often with conservative justices in the majority, the Supreme Court has consistently rejected Justice Scalia’s constricted view of what the Constitution requires. It would be nice if he underscored that fact the next time he spoke out on the subject.”

    The Originalist… In September Justice Scalia spoke with UC Hastings law professor Calvin Massey…

  27. Indego Africa is an innovative social enterprise that partners with women artisans in Rwanda on a fair trade basis to drive forward a sustainable, long-term solution to systemic poverty in Africa.

    Emphasizing entrepreneurship and independence, Indego Africa empowers African women to lift their families out of poverty through fair trade partnerships, international export market access, and long-term skills… Want to dig deeper? Explore Indego Africa’s innovative Hand Up Training Programs in Business, Computers, and Literacy, which are funded by 100% of Indego’s profits from sales and your generous Donations. And don’t forget to meet the dedicated Indego Africa Team working to uphold Indego Africa’s unprecedented commitments to Transparency & Ethics and verifying Social Impact.”

    Empowering Women — A Path to Prosperity

    A tangled web: the politics of gender in Turkey

    Although the women’s movement in Turkey has scored major victories in the realm of legal reforms, there is a widening gap between rights in law and realities on the ground. How secure are these gains?

    Women empowerment in Akwa Ibom

    Although a man with a couple of notable entries in the history of Nigeria politics, Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio appears to be ready for more exploits in the tough business of revising the record. In a coup d’état of sorts, Godswill has sworn-in women to take charge of various ministries, parastatals and local government councils in Akwa Ibom State…

    …the governor hinted of a future higher calling for women in Nigeria’s larger political space, and not just at the local government and state levels. He said the appointment of the women was in recognition of the managerial abilities of the Akwa Ibom women, adding that they were being recognised because of their immense contribution towards the political, social and economic development of the state.” …

  28. Clinton is proving that a feminist foreign policy is possible – and works

    The secretary of state has explicitly placed women’s needs at the heart of US thinking about long-term security

    The last paragraph rang most true for me. Do others wish to share their take on any of this? Here is that last paragraph:

    “Clinton is careful to couch her feminism in talk of US interests and splice it into a hawkish toughness to reassure her domestic audience. She has picked her issues carefully, and made some big compromises to keep people on side. Her feminism has obviously been helpful for the Obama administration, which is anxious to redesign US foreign policy in the midst of two disastrous foreign wars. It could still reap dividends for women, but the question is: will it be quietly sidelined when no longer useful?”

    “If the Republic of China was included in the United Nations Human Development Report (HDR) rankings, it would come in at number 18 in the Human Development Index (HDI) and place fourth in the Gender Inequality Index (GII), based on calculations by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) under the Executive Yuan.”

    This sounds suspicious to me and inconsistent with past reports, if my memory is correct. Does anyone have relevant data (or time to research/collect relevant data and report back here)? Of course, I hope my memory on this is incorrect…

  29. ETHIOPIA: Pastoralists battling FGM/C

    Pastoralist communities in two districts of northeastern Ethiopia have outlawed female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), saying it causes serious health problems to the women and is against their culture, a local official said.

    See also the comments thread to the post below:

    Afar region, Ethiopia, abandoing female genital mutilation

    Saudi Arabia suppresses rights of millions: Human Rights Watch

    Human rights conditions remain poor in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah has not fulfilled several specific reform promises; reforms to date have involved largely symbolic steps to improve the visibility of women and marginally expand freedom of expression.

    Authorities continue to systematically suppress or fail to protect the rights of nine million Saudi women and girls, eight million foreign workers, and some two million Shia citizens. Each year thousands of people receive unfair trials or are subject to arbitrary detention. Curbs on freedom of association, expression, and movement, as well as a pervasive lack of official accountability, remain serious concerns.

    World Report Chapter: Saudi Arabia, January, 2011, Human Rights Watch

    Click to access saudi.pdf

    See also the comments thread to the post below on Saudi Arabia on UN Women Board

  30. The Google Public Data Explorer now features UN Human Development Index (HDI) figures with links to the Human Development Report database of international development statistics, including the Gender Inequality Index (and others such as the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index and the Multidimensional Poverty Index).

    If you have not done so already, check this out (and see how you can access data, display comparisons, and more…):

    Roughly to start, click on member states to the left, and to the right, both click on and select index data for color, and also click on and select index data for size…

    “The Google Public Data Explorer enables users to view a wide range of international development statistics, and then graph and contrast different sets of figures. Anyone with Internet access can now readily compare the HDI performance of (for example) China, Egypt, India, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Sudan, Tunisia and the United States, graph the results, and share their newly created charts and maps with friends by email.”

  31. The Word on Women – A woman’s voice louder than a thousand bureaucrats

    “Manal Al-Sharif is doing more to advance women’s rights in Saudi Arabia than the United Nations (U.N.), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and western feminists combined…”

    “…If Al-Sharif succeeds in ending the ban on women drivers, it will show that change really comes from brave individuals, not the over-funded, big bureaucratic NGOs with fancy offices in Paris and London…”

    For more on this case in particular, see the comment threads to the two posts/links below:

    Defying the driving ban in Saudi Arabia

    Saudi Arabia on UN Women Board

  32. Sex Trafficking In Nepal: It’s A Global Problem

    Maiti Nepal foundation

    Crusading for the prevention of girl trafficking, rescue, rehabilitation, integration of survivors of trafficking.

    Minister Xingwana: Lip service or real gender equality?–Lip-service-or-real-gender-equality

  33. Turkey: Backward Step for Women’s Rights

    Abolishing Women’s Ministry Harms Women’s Rights Efforts

    “The Turkish government’s changes to the current Ministry for Women and Family is a step backward in its struggle to combat gender inequality and violence against women, Human Rights Watch said today….”

    Turkey: Women Left Unprotected From Violence

    Gaps in Law, Police Response, Put Urgently Needed Help Out of Reach

    “…A Human Rights Watch report [titled “He Loves You, He Beats You] issued in May documents brutal and long-lasting violence against women and girls in Turkey by husbands, partners, and family members, and the survivors’ struggle to get protection. A study by Turkey’s Hacettepe University has shown that about 42 percent of Turkish women experience physical or sexual violence inflicted by a relative at some point in their lives…”

    “He Loves You, He Beats You”

    Family Violence in Turkey and Access to Protection

  34. UN Women and ILO join forces to promote women’s empowerment in the workplace–en/index.htm

    Michelle Bachelet at the ILO Conference: The elimination of gender discrimination is a matter of “smart economics”–en/index.htm

    ILO Global Report on Equality at Work 2011: Statements by the ILO’s Director-General Juan Somavia and UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet–en/index.htm

    Human Rights Council holds Annual discussion on women’s human rights, focusing on prevention of violence against women

    Council concludes annual discussion on women’s Human Rights with Panel focusing on conflict-related violence against women

    Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

    Women’s Words-HIV priorities for positive change

    How do women around the world think the AIDS problem should be addressed?
    In preparation for the High Level Meeting on AIDS, which took place at the United Nations at the beginning of June, that question was answered by approximately 800 women, who, through a global consultation in nine languages, voiced their priorities and vision for the future of the HIV response.

  35. The news wires/services continue to surprise me, with so little coverage of the UN Human Rights Council electing Laura Dupuy Lasserre as the first woman ever to serve as President. Laura Dupuy Lasserre is from Uruguay and replaces the outgoing president, Sihasak Phuangketkeow from Thailand. After years of past bad government/dictatorship, Uruguay is a very promising democracy (more democratic than the U.S. in many ways, for instance, such as regarding citizens and popular referendums directly to influence legislation and even their constitution).

    If anyone has any info on Laura Dupuy Lasserre, could you please share it in comments?

    Here is a very brief start:

    Human Rights Council Seventeenth Session

    UN Human Rights Council elects its first woman president

    Un Human Rights Council

  36. World turning blind eye to 10 million child brides each year, charity warns
    UK must help to cut level of forced marriages for girls under 18, says Plan UK report

    “One girl below the age of 18 is married off every three seconds worldwide, according to a community development charity which is calling for the British government to help end child marriage….”

    Breaking Vows. Take the vow: So girls can say “no” to marriage [&] to end early and forced marriage

    Sign Plan’s Petition now, so girls can say ‘no’ to marriage

    Interested readers may also wish to check out the following two comments/links:

    1) “Saudi Arabia looks to ban child brides”, and “Child marriage is “murder of innocence””

    2) “Female Saudi doctor appeals to top court for right to choose a husband”

  37. Interesting research on the origins of patriarchy. Of course, even if correct as an explanation of certain gender inequalities, it provides no justification, but rather an incredibly well informed illustration of profound cultural lag.

    Gender inequality? Blame it on the plough

    Here is a good source for the paper (other sources either charge a fee or provide earlier versions):

    On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough


    “…Social anthropologists have long-considered the use of shifting hoe cultivation vs. plough cultivation as an important determinant of the evolution and persistence of traditional gender roles and norms. We formally test this hypothesis by combining ethnographic data on traditional plough use, measured at the ethnicity level, with contemporary data measuring gender attitudes and female participation outside of the domestic sphere.
    Our findings provide evidence that current differences in gender attitudes and female behavior have indeed been shaped by historical differences in agricultural systems. Specifically, we have shown that individuals, ethnicities and countries whose ancestors used the plough have beliefs that exhibit greater gender inequality today and have less female participation in non-domestic activities, like market employment, entrepreneurship, and politics. In an effort to identify a channel of cultural persistence, we examined variation across second-generation female immigrants born and living in the US, but from different cultural backgrounds. We find that even among this group of individuals, who face the same labor market, institutions, and policies, a history of plough use is associated with less female labor force participation.”


    “This paper seeks to better understand the historical origins of current differences in norms and beliefs about the appropriate role of women in society. We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution and persistence of gender norms. We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture, today have lower rates of female participation in the workplace, in politics, and in entrepreneurial activities, as well as a greater prevalence of attitudes favoring gender inequality. We identify the causal impact of traditional plough use by exploiting variation in the historical geo-climatic suitability of the environment for growing crops that differentially benefited from the adoption of the plough. Our IV estimates, based on this variation, support the findings from OLS. To isolate the importance of cultural transmission as a mechanism, we examine female labor force participation of second-generation immigrants living within the US.”

  38. Norway’s gender-bending kindergartners

    Why does Norway have the smallest gap between genders? Ask a toddler.

    Interested readers might also want to check out this post/news piece from last week:

    Swedish preschool : Breaking down gender stereotypes

    Also notable is another news piece on the paper described (and good source link provided) in comment number 57 above on the role of the plough and related matters on the origins (and lagging persistence!) of gender roles:

    Ploughing along in a world of inequalities

  39. Women gain power – without the quotas–without-the-quotas-20110706-1h2kk.html

    for more on this matter, interested readers may wish to check out:

    1) UN Women report: Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice

    2) Coverage of a good, perhaps one of our best, examples in Norway

  40. Good to find another news story on the paper “On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough” from comment number 57 (and 58) above. Really interesting research roughly on how many unjust gender inequalities today correlate with, and may well stem/originate from, long gone agricultural needs. Let’s get with the times, this sexist world…

    Genesis of gender discrimination

  41. Interesting to follow the Swedish “Egalia” preschool first reported on this blog here:

    Notice the sadly uneducated (or badly informed) views especially in the second link below:

    1) ‘Gender-neutral’ pre-school accused of mind control

    2) Boys and girls abolished in Sweden

    I think these people need some help from “Gender Spectrum”, for instance:

    Does anybody know about or have any opinions of Gender Spectrum? Looks good to me, though I have not yet really checked it out. If others have info/views, please share…

  42. The Mexican think-tank Fundación Ethos has published an interesting report on poverty in Latin American countries titled, “Ethos Poverty Index 2011”.

    “The objective of the Ethos Poverty Index is to enrich the study of poverty by using multidimensional measurement attuned to the [reality] of Latin America, as well as to contribute to the analysis and design of public policies based on a more comprehensive and broader concept of poverty.”

    This index appears to group several factors each under two main categories: Household Poverty and Contextual Poverty. Gender appears as one of about seven factors under Contextual Poverty. Gender here appears to count 1) income ratio between women and men, 2) ratio of educational level between sexes, and 3) the proportion of women in parliament. The proposed results about “What most affects Household Poverty” and “What most affects Contextual Poverty” are interesting if not enlightening, even if contentious – for purposes of possibly more informed agreement or disagreement.

    You can download the 11.2 MB report at the link below:

    Click to access EthosPovertyIndex2011.pdf

    Here is the English version of a website for Fundación Ethos:

  43. Gender Roles of Tibetan Society Challenged on a Daily Basis

    “As Tibetan women in exile are rapidly catching up with their male counterparts, traditional gender roles of Tibetan society are being challenged on an every-day basis. As Member of the Tibetan Parliament in exile and a Tibetan Women’s Association executive, Tenzin Dhardon Sharling stands in a unique position to comment on this change. The TPI recently met with her for a talk about the current state of affairs in Tibetan gender issues, as seen from her respective chairs in Tibetan society…”

    Tibetan Women’s Association

  44. The root of inequality? It’s down to whether you ploughed or hoed…

    A group of US economists claims the role of women in many modern societies is shaped by their agricultural past

    Nice to see more coverage of this research in more familiar places…For a (link to a) good copy of the paper and for some other coverage, see comments numbered 57, 58, and 60 above.

  45. Gender at the Heart of ICPD: The UNFPA Strategic Framework on Gender Mainstreaming and Women’s Empowerment

    This document presents a UNFPA’s Strategic Framework on Gender Mainstreaming and the Empowerment of Women. It reflect lessons learned from a 2008-2009 Capacity Assessment exercise, as well as the need for an increased focus on gender in the context of addressing the goals of the [1994?] International Conference on Population and Development. The Framework outlines UNFPA’s policy and [program] priorities for the empowerment of women and girls and for incorporating a gender perspective across the organization’s work. [1.66 MB PDF]

    Click to access Gender_Equality%20Strategy_2011.pdf

    Man Up! By Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA

    “A few days ago, I took part in the World YWCA’s fourth International Women’s Summit in Zurich, Switzerland, where people from more than 100 countries gathered to discuss issues facing girls and women. Under the theme “Women creating a safe world” we focused on gender inequality, young women’s right to sexual and reproductive health, and how to end violence against women.

    The Summit reinforced my belief that adolescent girls and young women can create a safer world — if we invest in their well-being today and empower them to be the leaders of tomorrow….”

    Just a handful of women in India hold assets

  46. SIERRA LEONE: Women moving forward in politics

    “When Marie Jalloh first ran for office in 2007, resistance to women in politics in Sierra Leone was so strong she faced harassment and intimidation from local authorities. Now, not only is she a member of parliament; she and other women, along with local NGOs, have brought the country closer to a legal quota for women in decision-making posts…”

    NEPAL: Women activists demand to see new draft constitution

    “Women’s rights groups in Nepal say they are being left out of negotiations at a critical time, weeks before the country’s Constituent Assembly (CA) is meant to agree on a new constitution…”
    “…Women’s rights advocates say they have the most to gain or lose with this constitution: they expect it will grant women rights to pass on citizenship to their children and to independently own property. They also hope it will mandate 50 percent female representation at all levels of government…”

    UN Women Signs Agreement to Empower Women Representatives in Odisha State of India

    Verizon’s New “Women’s Phone” To Include Charms, Calorie Counter

  47. Human rights chief welcomes Australian decision on gender

    The UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, has welcomed a decision by the Australian Government to allow Australians to choose the gender they wish to be identified as.
    The decision allows Australians who do not wish to identify themselves as either male or female, or who are transgender or intersex, to choose how they’re identified on their passports.

    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

  48. PR or genuine good work?

    Gender Equality in Norway:

    Gender In Norway

    Kilden Information Center for Gender Research in Norway

    Gender Balance in Research – Norway

    Gender Equality in Sweden:

    Gender equality: The Swedish approach to fairness

    All Women’s House

    Discrimination Ombudsman

  49. Gender Equality in Finland:

    Center for Gender Equality

    Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Gender Equality

    The Ombudsman for Equality Between Women and Men

    UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women Announces USD 17.1 Million in Grants to Groundbreaking Efforts to Protect Women and Girls

    UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

    UN Trust Fund Grantees, 15th Cycle (2010)

  50. OECD – – Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)

    “The Social Institutions and Gender Index is an innovative measure of underlying discrimination against women for over 100 countries. While other indices measure gender inequalities in outcomes such as education and employment, the SIGI helps policy-makers and researchers understand what drives these outcomes. The SIGI captures and quantifies discriminatory social institutions – these include among others, early marriage, discriminatory inheritance practices, violence against women, son bias, restrictions on access to public space and restricted access to productive resources.

    “As a composite index made up of 14 unique variables, SIGI and its sub-indices provide powerful and interpretable tools to compare the level of underlying discrimination against women for over 100 countries and economies, allowing cross-country, regional and sub-regional analyses. The scores and ranking of each country is complemented with detailed country profiles which set the context and describe how social institutions discriminate against women with country specific information.”

    Closely related and relevant is the Gender Inequality Index that was added (beginning in 2010) to the Human Development Index of the Human Development Report commissioned/published by the United Nations Development Programme.

    Out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index, the United States ranks 47, the United Kingdom ranks 34, and Canada ranks 20 in the 2011 Gender Inequality Index.

    You can download a PDF of the 2011 Gender Inequality Index (with rank and indicators listed in the order of the more comprehensive Human Development Index) by clicking and/or saving here:

    Here is a webpage for the Gender Inequality Index:

    You can download a PDF that provides a graphical presentation of the human development indices, including the gender inequality indicators, here:

    You can download a PDF of Frequently Asked Questions about the Gender Inequality Index here:

    The Google Public Data Explorer “enables users to view a wide range of international development statistics, and then graph and contrast different sets of figures. Anyone with Internet access can now readily compare the HDI performance of (for example) China, Egypt, India, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Sudan, Tunisia and the United States, graph the results, and share their newly created charts and maps with friends by email.”

    Here is a webpage for this wonderful tool:

    Readers can find some basic Google Public Data Help for using the tool here:

  51. Although no surprises or findings we do not already know here, the two pieces linked below arguably represent important steps for reports such as these to come from as many sources for as many readerships as possible (Council on Foreign Relations, and Ideas for India, funded by the International Growth Centre).

    Gender Equality Matters for Development Outcomes

    “A careful look at the data reveals that societies with greater gender equality achieve higher levels of social and economic rights fulfillment for all members.

    “Improving gender equity in itself may be a goal with clear, intrinsic value. However, a substantial body of research now suggests that gender equity and the achievement of other development goals, such as health, education, social and economic rights fulfillment, and even growth, are inseparable…”

    What explains gender disparities in economic participation in India?

    “The UN Gender Inequality Index has ranked India below several sub-Saharan African countries. Gender disparities are even more pronounced in economic participation and women’s business conditions in India. Using data from the 2011 Global Gender Gap report, Figure 1 shows that while India scores around the average of the gender gap index overall (horizontal axis), its score for women’s economic participation and opportunity is worse than 95% of all countries in the sample (vertical axis). Despite India being the second fastest growing economy in the world, gender disparities have remained deep and persistent in India… What explains these huge gender disparities in women’s economic participation in India?…”

    “…Recent research has emphasised the role of women in development. India’s economic growth and development depends upon successfully utilizing its workforce, both male and female. Despite its recent economic advances, India’s gender balance for entrepreneurship remains among the lowest in the world. Improving this balance is an important step for India’s development and its achievement of greater economic growth and gender equality. While achieving economic equality sometimes requires tough choices (e.g., progressive taxation that may discourage effort), the opposite is true here.”

  52. Recognizing the African woman farmer

    “Boys learning new ideas of masculinity around campfires in rural Africa and “sisterhoods” formed to provide a common voice to women are starting to change attitudes about African women farmers, say the authors of a forthcoming book about gender and agriculture. But it will take many more such efforts to support women food producers, who make up 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries. In some countries, that number rises to 70 to 80 percent…”

    “…Transforming gender relations will be essential to this process. ‘All too often, men think that work on gender means that they will lose out, and historically it is true that programmes focusing on women only have ignored men’s real needs,’ Farnworth said.

    Instead, efforts to effect change must target both women and men within households. ‘These work to transform how decisions taken regarding how to run the farm, and how to allocate money earned, and who benefits. The results have been really very impressive because women and men see the gains to cooperation so quickly – it can take only months to change patterns of behaviour that have existed for generations.’

    Change also depends on the involvement of men at all levels, she said. ‘This is true particularly in the case of adapting technologies and integrating into market value chains. Our findings show that promoting methodologies that encourage cooperation between women and men farmers reap productivity dividends as women and men share resources across the farm and maximize the efficiency of their decision-making.’…

    Recognising the African woman farmer – Interviews with the authors at the bottom of the page

    Cathy Rozel Farnworth

    Melinda Fones-Sundell

    Huairou Commission: Women, Homes, and Community

    The Huairou Commission develops strategic partnerships and linkages among grassroots women’s organizations, advancing their capacity to collectively influence political spaces on behalf of their communities and enhance their sustainable, resilient community development practices.

    Groots International: Grassroots Organizations Operating Together In Sisterhood

  53. Increasing competitiveness through equality

    “Countries and individual businesses are always on the search to increase their competitive edge, giving themselves an advantage against their competitors in the never-ending quest for profits and growth. A new report out of Norway is giving countries a clue as to how they could give themselves that competitive edge – through equality. According to the report, the countries that have done the most to promote equal opportunities also have access to far more talent than countries that have fallen behind with regard to equality. Their results were presented this summer at the annual conference of the Academy of International Business, attended by no less than 1,400 academics in Washington D.C.”

    Culture that promotes equal opportunities

  54. The Challenge of Closing the Gender Gap in Developing Countries

    “…Duflo’s ultimate message is, in her words, not the “most comforting message to deliver.” “[N]either economic development nor women’s empowerment is the magic bullet it is sometimes made out to be,” she concludes. “Equity between men and women is only likely to be achieved by continuing policy actions that favor women at the expense of men, possibly for a very long time.””

Comments are closed.