International Women’s Day, Global Gender Gap and backing women dreams

Today, March 8th it’s International Women’s Day. In the last few days I have seen a significant buzz in social media about the day. In particular I read a couple of pieces that made contribute to the buzz with this post.

World Economic Forum:

Equal pay benefits men, too. Here are four reasons why, backed up by our Global Gender Gap Report. [PDF, 6.1MB]

I liked the approach: “What’s in it for me?” (from the perspective of men, of course) (1).

Take a look at the report (395 pages). I skimmed through it and picked some essentials, especially from a couple of graphics. The Global Gender Gap Index measures gaps in 4 sub-indices: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment. The sources for the data are the International Labour Organisation, World Economic Forum, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Central Intelligence Agency, World Health Organisation and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The authors (Ricardo Hausmann (Harvard University), Laura Tyson (Berkeley), Yasmina Bekhouche (World Economic Forum) and Saadia Zahidi (World Economic Forum)) explain their methodology as follows:

There are three basic concepts underlying the Global Gender Gap Index, forming the basis of the choice of indicators, how the data is treated and the scale used. First, it focuses on measuring gaps rather than levels. Second, it captures gaps in outcome variables rather than gaps in input variables. Third, it ranks countries according to gender equality rather than women’s empowerment.

I attach below a screenshot showing the top 30 countries in the list.

Global Gender Gap Index, 2014 ranking, top 30 countries.

Global Gender Gap Index, 2014 ranking, top 30 countries.

Some comments to it:

  • Scandinavian countries are in the top of the list (no surprise here).
  • Some readers will wonder about the top places occupied by Nicaragua, Rwanda… read again the methodology above: “it focuses on measuring gaps rather than levels”.
  • When I see this kind of indices, for personal reasons I focus on the positions occupied by: Denmark #5, Germany #12, Netherlands #14, France #16, Spain #29, Lithuania #44.
  • A curiosity: Spain #29 vs. Cuba #30.
  • No surprises either at the bottom of the list: Bahrain, Turkey, Algeria, Ethiopia, Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Guinea, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Iran, Mali, Syria, Chad, Pakistan, Yemen… which they all have in common that are located in arid subtropical zone and that most of them have at least one letter a in the name.

Coming back to the question: “What’s in it for me?” The report shows how countries in which the gender gap is lower also have good scores in several other metrics which improve the conditions of life for men as well. There is the catch. See below the comparison for the Human Development Index and the Global Competitiveness Index:

Human Development Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

Human Development Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

Global Competitive Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

Global Competitiveness Index vs. Global Gender Gap Index.

What can you do to help to close the gender gap? In your community you can do much. See this other open letter also in World Economic Forum from Belinda Parmar, “To men, for International Women’s Day“:

We need you.

We need you to listen. When we tell you about a problem, we don’t want you to jump to a solution for us. We just want to say it out loud to solve it ourselves knowing that you will support us.

We need you to talk. To raise the issue of gender. Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. Saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing at all. It’s the only way to start the conversation.

We need you to value our differences. Realise that we bring a different perspective and encourage us to bring our personalities to work, to not feel like we have to put on a ‘male suit.’

One step further: what can you do to help to close the gender gap in the countries at the bottom of the list? (those with the letter a in the names)

A few days ago I received an email from Jason Riggs of Kivathe world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform dedicated to alleviating poverty and expanding financial inclusion (about which I have written before in this blog (2)). Kiva has launched Kiva.org/Dreams to empower even more women to reach for their dreams and they asked me to help them in making this campaign more widespread. Thus, here is my contribution:

By visiting Kiva.org/Dreams, you can back a dream by choosing a woman whom Kiva should lend $25 to. There is no cost to you. By choosing her, you help her to follow her dream of starting or growing her business, sending her children to school, and ultimately, gaining financial independence.

When women have the resources to make their dreams a reality, the world changes. More children go to school, more food is grown, and nations are more peaceful and prosperous. A case in point: if women farmers had equal access to farming assets and finance, they could increase their crop yields up to 30% and 150 million people who go hungry every day would be able to eat.

By contributing to the success of an entrepreneurial woman who has overcome obstacles, we discover so much more about our own resiliency, possibility, and potential. Each of us has a part to play.

 Together we can make dreams a reality for thousands of women around the world. So in honor of International Women’s Day and the power of women, back a dream at Kiva.org/Dreams.

My suggestion: visit the site of Kiva, filter by Yemen, the country at the very bottom of the list and help dreams come true, gender gaps close and turning around the situation.

Happy International Women’s Day!

(1) I like the approach for its different persuasion approach, not like the closing the gap out of equal treatment, fairness, justice… wasn’t engouh.

(2) See other posts about Kiva: My 100th loan with Kiva“, “A Kiva success story

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