Building a Gender-Equal World


The OECD Development Centre’s work on Gender Norms and Women's Empowerment

The situation is alarming.

Nearly half of all women worldwide have either experienced violence during the pandemic or know a woman who did. Over 11 million girls may not go back to school after the pandemic. The pay gap between men and women remains huge, and women continue to be the main providers of unpaid care and domestic work. In too many countries, too many women are prevented from making their own decisions. They face discriminatory laws, cultural practices and stereotypes.

The pandemic has set progress towards gender equality back by more than a generation. The human and social costs of this setback are immeasurable, as are the full economic repercussions. Just as economists are reducing their forecasts for global growth in 2023, experts are telling us that gender equality would boost global growth by 0.4% per year

When the OECD Development Centre began working on gender equality...

... in the early 2000s, its experts soon identified a problem: policy makers often focus on symptoms of inequality, such as pay gaps, rather than its root causes. They lack the data and evidence to understand how formal and informal laws, social norms and practices discriminate against and hold back women and girls.

Launched in 2009, the landmark Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) helps fill this data gap, shedding unique light on the hidden drivers of inequality that women and girls face across their life span. In 2018, the SIGI received global recognition when it became an official data source for Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality.

Today, policy makers use SIGI’s analysis to spot their countries’ strengths and weaknesses, and to find the best ways forward. The Ministry of Education in Côte d’Ivoire is currently working with partners like UN Women and the World Bank to put into practice the recommendations of a 2022 SIGI Country Study, for example by tackling the devaluation of girls’ education in the eyes of parents – notably fathers. The Republic of Ireland has decided to use the Centre’s “Man Enough?" indicator framework to improve its national data on masculine norms. This followed an innovative work stream on “harmful masculinity”, which showed how understanding the attitudes of men and boys is indispensable in achieving gender equality.

Tomorrow, the Centre will launch the next edition of the SIGI in 2023, covering 181 countries. Its network of SIGI National Focal Points and Working Group on the SIGI will help countries learn from one another, identify trends and challenges, and improve the relevance of the Centre’s work. SIGI will be of particular value for the growing number of countries designing feminist foreign and development policies.

As the Development Centre reflects on its 60th Anniversary, its Governing Board has called for a gender-equal world, where girls and women are empowered and live free from gender-based discrimination in social institutions. Gender equality and women's empowerment are a high priority for the Centre - 

– this is Development We Can Do Together.


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