Gender equality is crucial to solving the most pressing contemporary challenges

Gender Equality

The evidence linking economic and social prosperity to gender equality is clear: when women are included in decision-making, society thrives. Many decades after the removal of restrictions on voting rights, women are still grossly underrepresented in political decision-making bodies, indicating that more proactive measures are necessary. In order to finally achieve gender parity, the international community must move beyond dismantling barriers and towards guaranteeing equality of outcomes.
The evidence linking economic and social prosperity to gender equality is clear: when women are included in decision-making, society thrives. Many decades after the removal of restrictions on voting rights, women are still grossly underrepresented in political decision-making bodies, indicating that more proactive measures are necessary. In order to finally achieve gender parity, the international community must move beyond dismantling barriers and towards guaranteeing equality of outcomes.

The Global Governance Forum’s Gender Equality and Governance Index (GEGI) analyzes data from a variety of international organizations, including the World Bank, the Interparliamentary Union, and various UN agencies, in order to achieve a broad-based and comparative understanding of gender discrimination on a global scale. The GEGI’s examination of gender equality is divided into five distinct pillars: governance, education, work, entrepreneurship, and violence.

Although these pillars are considered individually, their indicators are deeply interwoven. For instance, education plays a vital role in enabling women to become leaders in government and business; female legislators tend to enact laws that benefit women in the labor force; and violence constrains women’s achievements across the four other pillars.

The GEGI indicates how far we remain from global gender equality—not one country has achieved a perfect score of 100. The highest-ranked country is Iceland, with a score of 85.3; the global average is just 65.1. Countries in the Middle East & North Africa, authoritarian regimes, and low-income countries score the lowest.

Achieving true gender equality will require both de jure and de facto progress across the globe. Laws that prevent women from inheriting, that give men control of income and household assets, that deny women access to education, health care, and financial services, that restrict women’s mobility and exclude them from the labor force, and that protect their abusers and murderers—these laws and more provide the infrastructure for gender discrimination on a broad scale. However, even more sinister are the cultural attitudes that persist in segregating and excluding women on a local and familial level: these norms are harder to target than laws and thus harder to change. Rewriting laws is easy; rewiring mindsets is much more challenging.

 

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Gender Equality Visionaries

Eleanor Roosevelt
Tireless Crusader for Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, after midnight, the UN General Assembly saw its first standing ovation for a single delegate. Representatives of 51 nations across the globe rose from their chairs to honor a 64–year-old woman, Eleanor Roosevelt, who had just made history.

Lucretia Mott
Influential Fighter for Women’s Rights and Abolition

As a fervent anti-slavery activist, Lucretia Coffin Mott attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, only to be told that because she was a woman, she could not be a full participant in the Convention.

Other Organizations to Look at

This book’s trenchant analysis of what ails the running of the globe should be read by policymakers everywhere, and certainly by those many citizens who concern themselves with fostering a better and more functional world. Change comes slowly, but this book is a prodding catalyst.

Robert I. Rotberg, Harvard Kennedy School, author of On Governance

Other Areas of Interest

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