Are gender norms the new magic bullet in development?

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By Dr Caroline Harper, Head of Programme, Principal Research Fellow, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 
Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


Gender-normsThe terms gender and social norms have become increasingly used in development discourse. They focus on the core of discrimination: people’s attitudes and behaviours as held and enacted by individuals, as housed in social institutions, and as codified in formal and informal laws. These attitudes and behaviours push women and girls to the margin of society, leaving them disempowered and often impoverished. But changes in these social and cultural rules are not simply cosmetic; social norms are being actively contested and changed, and these changes have the potential to endure and make a real difference.

However, changing norms, or the rules underpinning discriminatory attitudes and behaviours in our daily lives, can face difficulties on multiple fronts. For one, norm change can look dangerously like a magic bullet for fixing social problems. As work on norm change grows in popularity in the development sector, these efforts risk overlooking the complexity of what works to change norms and the multi-level nature of change that is required. At the same time, others see norm change as too challenging. Efforts to change norms can be difficult, highly political and risk provoking backlash.

So is it worth trying to address norms? And if so what action is required? Continue reading

Building Evidence to Change Women’s Lives

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By Miren Bengoa, Executive Director, Fondation CHANEL


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 
Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)

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Girls benefit from Corstone in India

A saying that motivates our philanthropic work at Fondation CHANEL is that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” This humble recognition drives us in filling our blind spots through evidence building so that we can succeed in delivering on our social mission to advance women and girls in society.

As a global private donor, we select amongst many filters to decide who and what to support. But how can we make those choices with greater confidence? For the past seven years, we have built a stronger knowledge base by compiling strategies from around the world that make a difference for girls and women. By cooperating with several grassroots and development organisations, social businesses and research institutions, the Foundation is bridging some gaps in understanding what works in which contexts and how to approach the complex social changes needed to reduce gender inequalities.

So what are the key stages for uncovering the unknown?
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Towards a Human Rights Based Approach to Bridging Africa’s Gender Digital Divide

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By Nadira Bayat, Programme Director, Global Economic Governance (GEG) Africa1


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


SIGI-Digital-Human-RightsThe rapid rise of the Internet, together with emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced robotics and drones, Blockchain, the “Internet of things” (IoT) and 3D printing, are unleashing new opportunities and transforming the global economy. While these technological advances can address some of the most pressing 21st century challenges – from education, health care and public services to agriculture, economic inclusion and the environment – the benefits are not being shared equally. Despite Internet connectivity having finally reached 50% of the world’s population in 2018, the rate of Internet access growth has slowed down considerably.2 In Africa, specifically, only about 20% of the population has regular Internet access3 – a challenge with significant implications for harnessing the transformative power of the technology-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution for inclusive and sustainable development.

Women from developing countries comprise the majority of the unconnected. The gender divide has narrowed in most regions since 2013, but it has widened in Africa. The proportion of women using the Internet on the continent is 25% lower than the proportion of men.4 Notwithstanding the significant potential of mobile phone technology to spur women’s entrepreneurship through mobile banking and payment services as well as improved access to information and finance, sub-Saharan Africa follows South Asia with the second largest average gender gap in both mobile ownership and mobile Internet use.5 A widening gender digital divide concerning the availability, affordability, accessibility, and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) negatively impacts women’s economic empowerment. It further undermines full gender equality that lies at the core of human rights and is integral to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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The Push toward Gender Equality Will Require More Than Money

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By Laura Frigenti, Global Head International Development Assistance Services (IDAS), KPMG


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


sigi-jan-19Achieving gender equality is critical to achieving each and every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Though few disagree that gender equality is a facilitator and a catalyst for meeting these ambitious targets, too few emphasise the non-capital inputs required to achieve them. A push for capital remains front-and-center in the conversation, but several other factors must be pursued with equal zeal. Good data, disrupting norms and greater innovation are chief amongst them. Such efforts contribute not only to SDG 5 to “achieve gender equality and empower women and girls,” but also pave the way further for achieving the greater 2030 Agenda.

Gathering alongside gender-lens investors, impact investors and shareholder activists at the December 2018 Financial Times Investing for Good USA event highlighted the challenges and opportunities for accelerating progress toward greater gender equality. Unfortunately, the need remains to put in place effective systems and processes to collect data and measure impact in this critical area. Less than one-quarter of the key gender indicators have adequate tracking information, and only 13% of countries worldwide dedicate a regular budget to collecting and analysing gender statistics. The scarcity of data is a disservice to existing efforts, defying effective planning for the future. To address this gap in data and reporting, KPMG, for example, is a founding partner in Equal Measures 2030, an initiative dedicated to linking data and evidence with planning and actions toward gender equality.

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Gender equity starts at the dinner table

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Adolescent girls are the most at risk of not being able to access a nutritious diet. Ensuring they do is key to economic development, peace and stability


By David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


girls-eatingImagine a family sitting down for a meal – a father, a mother who’s nursing a little baby, a school-aged boy and an adolescent girl. Who has the most on their dinner plate? Maybe Dad, since he’s the biggest and has a physically demanding job. Then the boy – I had two of them and sometimes it was amazing how much they could eat. Then after that, the two slimmest: Mom and daughter, right?

But this so-called cultural norm is exactly the opposite of what ought to happen, and that’s why a new focus on the nutrition needs of adolescent girls could make a big impact on the future of so many developing nations around the world.

Adolescent girls, even more than boys, require the most nutritious diet possible, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, along with meat, fish and dairy to give them the key vitamins and minerals that help them to grow. Unfortunately, in far too many areas, the needs of adolescent girls are rarely prioritised. Continue reading

It’s (literally) about time: men as part of the solution to closing the care gap

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By Ruti Levtov, PhD, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Learning at Promundo-US


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


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Photo: Sarine Arslanian / Shutterstock.com

Two hundred and ten years: That’s how long it will take to close the gender gap in time spent on care if we continue on our current trajectory, according to recent analysis by the International Labour Organization (ILO). In no country in the world do men and women spend an equal amount of time on care responsibilities, an inequality that restricts women’s participation and growth in the labour force, in political leadership and in other public spheres. It also limits the space for men to express their full humanity as nurturers, caregivers and equal partners at home. To achieve global development goals, to fulfill human rights and to enable all of us to live full lives, we need to urgently address this inequality.

It won’t be an easy road – the barriers are many to recognising, reducing and – as is the focus of this blog – redistributing care. While redistributing unpaid care responsibilities between individuals and the state is essential, we know that gender stereotypes held by individuals, communities, workplaces and governments continue to presume that women’s most important contributions are at home, and men’s are in the workplace. At Promundo, we are focusing on how we can deconstruct these stereotypes. Continue reading

Measuring beyond outcomes: Understanding gender inequality

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By Papa A. Seck (@PABSeck), Chief Statistician, UN Women


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


burkina-faso-sigi-papa-e1544171190150.jpgOver her lifetime, a girl born today in Germany is expected to earn just about half the income of a boy born on the same day. In France and Sweden, she fares slightly better at about 70%. In Turkey, she can expect to earn no more than a quarter.1 Globally, it is estimated that 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. This is the most egregious violation of women’s rights and it is pervasive in all countries around the world, developed and developing alike. Such violence has often tragic consequences. A recent study by UNODC found that a shocking six women are killed every hour by a family member.2 An estimated 650 million women and girls in the world today were married before age 18, and at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the 30 countries with representative data on its prevalence. Women around the world do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do, simply because that task is delegated to them by our societies. Continue reading