Are Men Frozen in Time? We Need to Transform rigid Masculinities

sigi-banner-woman-day-2020

By Ravi Verma, Regional Director, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

man-brain-in-cageA friend told me recently, “While I am able to fight against the rules set for me and continue my struggle to do so, I feel helpless about my father and brothers. I realise and openly acknowledge how they have also been victims of rules and norms set by what we call “Patriarchy”. Unfortunately, the rules for them have remained unchanged, they seem to have been frozen in time.”

One of the greatest oversights in recent times has been to equate gender with women and gender equality with women’s empowerment, ultimately leaving men out of the picture. This implies that masculine norms need not be questioned, and women should strive to be more like men. Evidence and data however show that thinking of gender equality as conforming to masculine norms is unhelpful for the well-being of both women and men. In fact, the norms and practices that men continue to associate with gender roles and relations seem outdated in the context of changing social expectations today.
Continue reading

A “good wife” married to a “real man”: Three million girls still at risk of Female Genital Mutilation

sigi-banner-woman-day-2020

By Gaëlle Ferrant, Economist, and Estelle Loiseau, Gender Programme Officer, OECD Development Centre

FGM-BLOG-blog

Three million girls are still at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) every year. Twenty-five years after adopting the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (articles 39 and 93) and five years after setting the Sustainable Development Goal 5.3, which both call for the eradication of FGM, the world has failed to protect its women and girls. An estimated 200 million girls and women in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have fallen victim to FGM. However, the practice is not restricted to these regions only: 600 000 women in Europe and 513 000 women and girls in the United States have undergone FGM. These figures are unacceptable, especially when the exact total number remains unknown and is likely underestimated.

Continue reading

Can hashtags hack gender norms? Seven Principles in Communicating for Gender Equality

SIGI-Banner-Woman-day-2020

By Felix Zimmermann, Co-ordinator, Development Communication Network (DevCom), OECD Development Centre

gender-blog-hashtag

With individual actions, we can all help the world achieve gender equality. That is the message behind #GenerationEquality, the theme for International Women’s Day on Sunday, 8 March. While #GenerationEquality is easily tweeted, the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) [1] tells us that, around the world, discrimination remains deeply entrenched. Many countries have enacted laws to protect women’s rights. But laws can be easier to change than attitudes and behaviours. Shockingly, SIGI tells us that almost 1 in 3 women around the world still believe that spousal violence is sometimes justified. Almost 1 in 2 people think that men make better political leaders than women.

To eradicate harmful practices and achieve gender equality, we need to change attitudes and shift gender norms.[2] The evidence confirms that those of us communicating for development have crucial roles to play. We can expose people to new ideas, encouraging them to reflect on their discriminatory attitudes or emulate positive role models. We can raise awareness about new laws and the benefits of gender equality, such as happiness or economic growth. UK-based think tank ODI shows how media initiatives like the interactive SSMK radio show helped transform the lives of adolescent girls in Nepal.

Continue reading

The Case for Gender-Smart Work Policies: Key to Equality, Good for Business

LJD

By Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel


This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCBM seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model based on a common, holistic and integrated set of economic, social, environmental and ethical rights-based principles. Read more about the HCBM here, and check out an event about it here

The HCBM project originated in 2015 within the World Bank’s Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development and is now based at the OECD’s Development Centre

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


We have witnessed numerous efforts to enhance gender equality throughout the past decade. Legal reforms are taking place worldwide, and discriminatory laws are slowly being struck down in favour of parity.[1] But despite developments in employment laws, inequality persists. Women’s labour participation has been stagnant, and last year, the already low number of female CEOs tumbled even further.[2] As the provider of 90% of jobs worldwide,[3] the private sector plays a significant role in the push for gender equality in employment. By adopting gender-smart policies, companies may be able to fill the gaps unaddressed by laws and minimise the impacts of inequality in the workplace. Although not all women work in these institutions, such policies are nonetheless impactful for those who do and could set in motion a new and replicable culture of work – one that is both business-smart and more gender-inclusive. Continue reading

Why looking at discriminatory social institutions is critical for the gender-responsiveness of social protection policies

Sigi-banner-for-blog

By Gaëlle Ferrant and Caroline Tassot, Economists, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a special series marking the intersection between
the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)
the 2019 SIGI Global Report and work on Social Protection


SIGI-Gender-Social-ProtectionThe call for leaving no one behind includes extending social protection to excluded groups, such as vulnerable women, and providing all women with similar benefits as men. For instance, despite the universal provision of paid maternity leave (only 2 out of the 180 SIGI1 countries do not provide paid maternity or parental leave for mothers), only 41% of mothers with newborns receive a maternity benefit (with fewer than 16% in Africa), while 83 million remain uncovered (ILO, 2017). In Europe, the relatively narrow gender gap in old-age pension coverage (6.5 percentage points) hides extensive gender disparities in the actual benefits: women’s pensions are, on average, 40% lower than those of men (Directorate for Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs, 2016).

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 5 on gender and SDG 1.3 on social protection, means better understanding the conditions that will allow such universal social protection coverage to translate into fair and equal outcomes at all stages of the lifecycle for women and men. This is exactly what the Commission on the Status of Women will discuss in New York this March (11-22 March 2019). It is also at the heart of the Joint Statement by the Social Protection Inter-Agency Co-operation Board (SPIAC-B), in which the OECD Development Centre is a member.

Continue reading

Are gender norms the new magic bullet in development?

Sigi-banner-for-blog

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