What can gender indices tell us about gender norms that affect adolescent girls?

Research reports and studies
August 2015
Paola Pereznieto with Rachel Marcus
Gender indices can give us a summary measure of different indicators affecting the wellbeing and development of women and girls. They typically look at one or more of the following aspects of people’s lives: health, education, economic empowerment, labour opportunities, political voice, and supportive laws and institutions. In most cases, indices have been produced more than once for the same country, which means we can analyse trends in outcomes for women and girls over time.

While indices tend to measure outcomes across these dimensions rather than gender norms specifically, evidence of changes in the situation of women and girls in a country over time enables us to begin a conversation about the factors that have contributed to those changes. There is an increasing amount of literature that we can draw on, which explores how gender norms can affect women and girls’ overall wellbeing. One of the indices we discuss here, SIGI, is particularly relevant because it focuses on the role played by formal and informal social institutions (which it defines as formal and non-formal laws, attitudes and practices) and how they affect the lives of women and girls in different countries.

This Research and practice note looks in detail at five global indices that provide the best measures of gender equality and empowerment: the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI); the Gender Inequality Index (GIE); the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI); the African Gender Inequality Index (GEI); and the African Gender Development Index (AGDI).