Tackling Gender Inequality

gender inequality

Achieving gender equality is a crucial global development objective. In our view, tackling it requires action at many levels: governments and companies design stimulus programs and restart strategies in the face of COVID-19; individuals can support talented women in their workplaces and speak up to counter unconscious bias; and families should aim for daughters and sons to have a wide range of career options.

Gender inequality isn’t limited to the world of work – it also affects our health and the way we raise children. For example, women are at higher risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections including HIV; they’re more likely to die of preventable diseases like malaria and pneumonia, or be at risk from harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage. They’re at greater risk of malnutrition, respiratory infections and lower vision, too.

While some progress has been made in reducing gender gaps, especially in high-income countries, substantial gaps remain. These gaps are caused by a combination of structural and individual factors, such as differences in educational attainment, occupational choice, and time spent in paid employment versus caring for family members. They also reflect the fact that women’s labour market participation is often constrained by household responsibilities, such as raising children and caring for older family members.

In addition, a large share of women are excluded from decision-making around household income – and this is particularly the case in low-income households. This is because women tend to reinvest most of their income back into the family and community. This reinvestment is not only important for the well-being of women and girls but also helps economies thrive.

This chart shows that if all adults received equal salaries, the average household income would rise by nearly $3,000 a year. In many countries, however, women’s earnings per hour are significantly lower than men’s, and they spend a greater proportion of their time in part-time jobs that often offer less security and flexibility. This results in lower wages, which are compounded by the fact that women disproportionately seek jobs that can fit with their caregiving responsibilities.

The OECD’s Gender Data Portal provides selected indicators shedding light on how far we are from achieving gender equality in education, employment, entrepreneurship and the economy, and where action is needed most. The data include both country and global aggregates.

The GII is an attempt to quantify the gap between the world’s male and female performers, on three dimensions that are central to human development – reproductive health, empowerment and labour market participation. It measures the amount of potential human development lost because of gender-based disadvantage across countries, using as much of a country’s available data as possible. It is the first time that a global indicator of this kind has been developed.