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Gender Inequality around the World

on Sun, 03/10/2013 - 17:58
Friday, March 8 2013 was the International Women's Day 2013 and the last day of a two-day course/workshop on measuring and monitoring inequalities on health, that I was attending. While appreciating women attending this course and recognizing their contribution to public health, I thought it would be interesting to write about gender inequalities, the two main topics of the day  "Inequality" and "Women's day". 
Fortunately, as part of the Human Development Reports 2012, the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), has developed the Gender Inequality Index (GII), a metric to measure the disparities between women and men having into account three main dimensions: health, empowerment and labor market. 
UNDP Human Development Reports defines Gender Inequality Index (GII) as follow:
The Gender Inequality Index (GII) reflects women’s disadvantage in three dimensions—reproductive health, empowerment and the labor market—for as many countries as data of reasonable quality allow. The index shows the loss in human development due to inequality between female and male achievements in these dimensions. It ranges from 0, which indicates that women and men fare equally, to 1, which indicates that women fare as poorly as possible in all measured dimensions. The health dimension is measured by two indicators: maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate. The empowerment dimension is also measured by two indicators: the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and by secondary and higher education attainment levels. The labor dimension is measured by women’s participation in the work force. The Gender Inequality Index is designed to reveal the extent to which national achievements in these aspects of human development are eroded by gender inequality, and to provide empirical foundations for policy analysis and advocacy efforts.
This diagram illustrates the framework and components of the Gender Inequality Index.
The GII provides insights into gender disparities in 146 countries. It can be useful to help governments, organizations, civil society and the general public understand the gaps between women and men. GII as any other global composite index, is constrained by the need for international comparability, but it could be readily adapted for use at the national or local level.
In the context of the Human Development Index, GII can be interpreted as a percentage loss to potential human development due to shortfalls in the dimensions included.
The Gender Inequality around the World visualization below shows a global overview of the situation, distribution and trends of the GII in the World.
In 2011, the world average score of the GII is 0.492, reflecting a percentage loss in achievement of human development across the three dimensions due to gender inequality of 49.2%. Regional averages range from 31% in Europe and Central Asia, to 61% in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the country level losses due to gender inequality range from 4.9% in Sweden (best situation), to 76.9% in Yemen (worst situation). Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab States suffer the largest losses due to gender inequality with 61%, 60.1% and 56.3% respectively. Regional patterns reveal that reproductive health is the largest contributor to gender inequality around the world – women in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a massive 73% loss, suffer the most in this dimension, followed by South Asia (65.9%) and the Arab States and Latin America and the Caribbean (each with 62.5% loss). The Arab States and South Asia are both also characterized by relatively weak female empowerment.
At the country level, Yemen, Chad, Niger, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Liberia, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone are the top ten countries in the world with the higher inequalities between women and men in 2011 with GII values from 0.66 to 0.77 or in other words, 66% to 77% of loss in achievement of human developments due to gender inequality. In the opposite side, the top ten countries with the better situation are France, Iceland, Singapore, Germany, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden with GII values from 0.11 to 0.05.
According to GII from 1995 to 2011, most of the countries has experienced improvement in gender inequality, having Lao People's Democratic Republic, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Albania, Kuwait and Tajikistan with significant improvement. In spite of this progress, still persist significant gender gaps between women and men that should be address in order to improve the human development.
Government, civil society and the general public should continue paying attention to reproductive health, education and labor force participation of  women mainly at local and national levels.   
P.S. The data visualization in this article was picked as Tableau Public Visualization of the Day on March 13th, 2013
Tableau Public Visualization of the Day, January 15th, 2013



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