Progressing towards Gender Equality

21 June 2013

Two international indexes  have been published this month , the Global Peace Index and the Gender Equality Index .

The construction of the Global Peace Index involves the study of violent behaviour in nations, individual and collective, in conflicts both internal and external , and how equitably societies are structured in order to promote access to good education, housing and health , driving down poverty and promoting gender equality.

From the findings of this year’s Global Peace Index we learn that  :

Afghanistan returns to bottom place of the Peace Index of 162 countries .

In the past year, the drug war in Mexico claimed twice as many lives as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

The total economic impact of containing violence globally  is estimated to be almost 10 trillion US dollars, the equivalent of 11 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product.

The US stands at 100th place, the UK at 44th.

America is ranked so low because of its high rate of imprisonment, the easy availability of firearms, and its record on international intervention.

By contrast, the Index notes that “ the U.S. rates moderately on measures related to gender equality, education and infant mortality.”

The other index published, the Gender Equality Index, refers to member states of the European Union, and here Sweden comes top as the most progressive country in EU for advancing women’s rights towards equality with men with score of 74 on a scale running from 1 to 100 ( complete equality)

Denmark and Finland came narrowly behind in second and third, with the UK at 60.

Using 2010 data, the index looks at six factors and the differences between women and men :

Work (opportunities for a range of jobs, money (income inequality) , knowledge (education and training) , time ( time left after work) , power ( political representation)  and health (longevity, access to treatment)

For “time”, the Index records that A wide gender gap exists in the time spent caring and educating children and grandchildren in addition to time spent on cooking and housework.

“Throughout all Member States, it is women who perform the bulk of these caring activities. Men are, however, more likely than women (in the vast majority of Member States) to participate in sporting, cultural or leisure activities on a regular basis.”

For “health”, the Index indicates,  “On the gender indicators used in the domain of health show that there is a large degree of truth, at the EU Member States level in the old adage that ‘women get sicker and men die younger’.

“In terms of gender gaps, the domain of health presents a mixed picture. Although there are small or no gender gaps in terms of unmet needs, medical or dental, this hardly translates into health status, where gender gaps remain.”

As well as looking at differences between and women across Europe, the index allows us to compare how women in other countries are doing compared with the lead nation.

In Sweden, the projected healthy life expectancy for females born now is over 5 years more than for females born in the UK  .

The Gini coefficient measures inequality in incomes. where 0 is complete equality, and 1 complete inequality. Sweden’s rate is 0.24 , much lower than the UK rate of 0.33.

These two indexes are important because gender equality is at the centre of European politics.

A host of objectives that the European Union set itself for economic growth in the 10 year period up to 2020  such as  “smart and sustainable development” depend for their success on gender equality, but as the Index admits :

“Despite 50 years of policies and actions at European level, Member States have not yet managed to overcome gender gaps, thus there is a need for further efforts.”

The measurement of Gender Equality helps countries to observe how they compare with others, with Sweden, the leader , being almost three-quarters of the way “there”.

This can greatly assist in national governments’ policy development on gender equality.

What else can these indexes tell us ?

Predictably, the Scandinavian and Nordic countries are over-represented  in the top tiers of both the Global Peace Index and the Gender Equality Index.

That predictability should not make the conclusions appear routine and so of lesser significance.

That predictability emphasises that when peoples’ abilities  are organised for the common good that comes from access to education, health, and care for the old and the young, and where the goals are the redistribution of  wealth  and opportunities, then  mutual trust , higher social cohesion , and less inequality are the peace dividends that these societies earn.


Click on the images below to view the indexes

Global Peace Index

Gender Equality Index


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