Gender equality: a global analysis

This article is the first from our Online Volunteers project and it doesn’t reflect the ideas of SCI movement, just the author's point of view.

by Akudo McGee

In December 2015, dialogue about gender equality in the United States was reignited on the Internet, with differing opinions published online, in print and expressed in the comment section of forums, magazines and blogs. This came after the United Nations sent three human rights experts to the United States to examine the country’s treatment of women and commitment to gender equality. Their findings prompted concern about gender equality in the U.S. but it also renewed the debate about gender equality worldwide.

Their findings, which have yet to be elucidated in an official report, provoked debate over which countries commit more to gender equality or if there is even a gender equality issue. Though for many the report introduced nascent concerns about gender equality worldwide, this has been a prominent issue for many human rights organizations and researchers, who have collected substantial data. So what does gender equality look like on a global scale, is there a gap and, if so, how can that gap be sutured?

In 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released an annual Global Gender Gap Report. In this report, 144 countries were assessed for their level to gender equality using what they call the Global Gender Gap Index (GGI). The Index is outlined by three integral concepts (the same three used in their 2006 report):  Gaps, Outcomes and Gender Equality. The three concepts are further elaborated by four subindexes, which include: Economic Participation and Opportunity; Educational Attainment; Health and Survival; and Political Empowerment.

Gaps vs. Levels

By focusing on gender-based gaps in the availability of resources, as opposed to the overall level of resources and opportunities in each country, the report avoids economic bias. This view divorces the prejudiced ranking of countries based on development status and encourages a comprehensive assessment of gender equality.

Outcomes vs. Inputs

Data focuses on outputs instead of inputs, in order to create a global image of the disparity between men and women. While input factors are explicitly excluded from the indicators and subindexes, they are discussed in the analytical section of the study.

Gender Equality vs. Women’s Empowerment

The GGI focuses primarily on the divergence between the two genders instead of the empowerment of one or the other. In their words ‘Our aim is to focus on whether the gap between women and men in the chosen indicators has declined, rather than whether women are winning the so-called “battle of the sexes.’ ” 

Results and Takeaways

So who are the so-called “role model” countries and who has the most rooms for improvement? The 10 countries that ranked the lowest were: Yemen (at place 144), Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Iran, Mali, Morocco, Côte d'Ivoire and Lebanon. The countries in the top ten were as follows: Iceland (ranking #1), Finland, Norway, Sweden, Rwanda, Ireland, Philippines, Slovenia, New Zealand and Nicaragua.

The study reveals that, on average the gender gap nears 100% closed for health outcomes and educational attainment, while gaps between men and women in economic participation and political empowerment remain wide. In the study’s conclusions, several elements are identified as having crucial roles in gender equality results. The report identified a “strong correlation” between gender equality and a country’s economic performance, human capital development and multiple socio-economic, political and cultural variables. While the WEF maintains that the purpose of their study is to investigate and perfect methods of measuring gender equality, rather than suggest policy changes, their findings have many takeaways.  

If you are interested about the Gender sensitivity inside SCI, read this article.


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