Key Results from the Social Institutions Gender Index (SIGI) 2019
The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures the invisible part of the gender equality’s iceberg by looking at gaps that discriminatory legislation, social norms and practices create between women and men in terms of rights and opportunities.
The SIGI’s innovative focus combines the analysis of legal and policy environment with data on practices and people’s attitudes on what is deemed acceptable or not for women and men to think and do in their specific context. Thus, it reflects both the de jure state of laws as well as the de facto situation on the ground, and highlights the key role of social institutions in determining outcomes for women and girls around the world and the achievement of sustainable and inclusive development.
First launched in 2009 and subsequently updated in 2012, 2014 and 2019 the SIGI covers four dimensions spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women and girls throughout their lifetimes: discrimination in the family, restricted physical integrity, restricted access to productive and financial resources, and restricted civil liberties. It focuses on how these formal or informal institutions play a pivotal role in limiting or enabling individual and collective agency and capabilities.
How to Use the SIGI?
The 2019 SIGI has four main components, which serve as tools for researchers, policy-makers and development practitioners to understand better barriers to gender equality to define better gender transformative strategies.
- The Gender, Institutions and Development Database (GID-DB) comprises raw variables measuring the level of discrimination in laws, social norms and practices in 180 countries. It provides comparable information on the extent of discrimination in legal frameworks, and detailed information on attitudes towards and the prevalence of discriminatory practices.
- The country profiles provide comprehensive qualitative information on the existing legal framework and action plans to promote gender equality for 180 countries. It provides a detailed information on legal provisions and enables a a deep understanding of the legal context in each country and how it serves as a constraint or driver of gender equality.
- The cross-country ranking classifies 120 countries according to their level of discrimination. It provides aggregate information.This third component can illustrate which countries have social institutions that are more and less conducive to gender inequality – both overall and in specific dimensions – important information for targeting resources and other support, and for monitoring change over time.
- The policy simulator allows policy makers to scope out reform options assess their likely effect on gender equality in social institutions and compare specific countries with a range of other selected countries.
The SIGI is playing an important role in the monitoring of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, casting light on the various structural barriers that may impede progress along the range of outcomes under Goal 5, focused on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. In fact, it is being used as an official data source for monitoring target 5.1.1 on ending discrimination against all women and girls, namely, measuring ‘whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex’.
Moreover, bilateral aid agencies and development foundations in countries such as the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland are using the country profiles and the database to identify and target geographic and thematic areas for their gender programmes and projects. Similarly, international banks and financial institutions including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and UN Women are using SIGI as a key research tool to inform their strategies. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has used SIGI to inform investments in gender equality programmes, while the African Development Bank (AfDB) has used SIGI in its Gender Strategy, Results Measurement Framework and African Gender Index. Additionally civil society organisations (CSOs) and gender activist groups such as the Landesa Rural Development Institute have used SIGI as a key advocacy tool.
Furthermore, the SIGI framework has also been used as a point of departure for country studies which constitute a ‘’compass for achieving SDG 5’’. SIGI country studies permit a more in-depth evaluation of discriminatory institutions and their effects on women’s lives, considering both institutions that have been identified as important across countries as well as those deemed important in a national context. Working alongside with national governments to develop context-specific indicators on social institutions, fostering ownership and commitment, and building national capacity for statistical and analytical work on gender and social institutions. So far, country studies on Burkina Faso and Uganda have been made, and there is a forthcoming study on Tanzania. These SIGI country studies explore sub-national disparities (e.g. between urban and rural areas, between ethnic groups, or rooted in other context-specific differences) and produce all gender-relates SDGs indicators.
What are the key findings of the SIGI 2019?
- Progress has been made towards greater gender equality, most notably in the legal frameworks. New legislation that enhances equality and abolishes discriminatory laws has been enacted. In the last 5 years, 14 countries have criminalized domestic violence and 15 countries have strenghtned their legal frameworks to delay age of first marriage by eliminating legal exceptions allowing girls to be married. Additionally, gender-sensitive programmes are policies have had a positive effect on certain discriminatory social norms making them less prominent. As such, social acceptance of domestic violence has decreased from 50% in 2012 to 27% in 2018.
- Despite the progress made, at the current pace it will take over 200 years, or 9 generations, to achieve gender equality. Political commitments, legal reforms and gender-sensitive programmes in many countries are still not translated into real change; the number of girl marriage and women’s labour participation has stagnated, and slow progress has been made in the prevalence of domestic violence and women’s political participation.
- Slow progress is due to existing legal discrimination and loopholes, the inadequacy of existing laws and programmes, the uneven implementation and enforcement of the law within and across countries, and the persistence of discriminatory customary laws and social norms.
- Throughouth the world women face the highest levels of discrimination in their own household, especially regarding their responsibilities at home. Worldwide the level of discrimination in the family is 44%; compared to 29% in restrictive civil liberties, 28% in access to resources and 22% in restricted physical integrity. In some countries, laws and social norms governing family matters still consider a woman as a dependant household member subordinate to her husband’s authority.For instance 40 countries still solely recognise the husband as the head of the household, 27 countries require women to obey their husbands. Even in Europe and in the Americas, women’s roles are confined to their traditional reproductive and caring responsibilities, respectively spending 2 and 3 times more time in unpaid care and domestic work.
What are the main recommendations of SIGI 2019?
- Start with legal reforms and transformative–gender policies, reconciling formal and informal laws and going beyond traditional mainstreaming.
- Eradicate discriminatory laws and legal loopholes: address legal issues that allow discriminatory practices such as widow’s disinheritance and girl child marriage to continue.
- Align all frameworks : bring subnational and national levels into line when statutory law coexist alongside traditional and religious laws and practices.
- Guarantee women’s and girls’ human rights : ensure women’s rights are respected regardless of their location, marital status, ethnicity or religion, troughout their life-cycle.
- Go beyond standard gender mainstreaming strategy: embrace a multi-sectoral and integrated approach to address all women’s issues from a full-lifetime perspective.
- Enforce laws through community mobilisation and empowerment.
- Engage the whole society: involve multiple actors as even with laws and policies in place, everyone has a role to play in empowering, mobilising and implementing change. Development co-operation stakeholders, local civil society, community and religious leaders, teachers, health professionals, justice and police officers, the media, foundations, and the private sector all have roles to play.
- Think global act local: Design solutions locally and combine them with adequate legislation for social change to take hold.
- Learn about the efficiency of policies and programmes through countinous accountability and monitoring process.
- Establish an accountability and monitoring processes: make sure the policies and programmes in place are and remain gender-responsive. Policy makers and investors need understand the scope and the drivers of gender inequalities, not only to identify relevant policy solutions, but also to track the evolution of major determinants of the gender gap.
- Invest in data: devote resources to obtain the additional and even more granular evidence and data that are needed to strengthen the case for gender equality and to highlight its pivotal role in achieving Agenda 2030 and the sustainable and inclusive development.