Director's Note: Why an Index?
Women make up roughly half of the world’s population, but far less of the world’s formal positions of power.The landscape is changing, however, with more and more women leading the parties, companies, movements, and ideas of the future.
Yet this progress in gender parity is not guaranteed– some countries have already backpedaled, and political and policy empowerment remains elusive in others despite improvements in health and education.
Gender Parity is a Catalyst for Global Progress
Women’s leadership can positively impact governance, development, and economic growth. Global awareness of the benefits gender equality presents has grown significantly; today, much of the world has converged to promote women’s economic empowerment.
Political empowerment is a critical first step in this endeavor. If women’s voices remain absent from decision-making tables, policy solutions will fail to comprehensively tackle the challenges communities and nations face across the globe.
The Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index (the Leadership Index) measures gains – and losses – in gender parity at a propitious time, providing the international community with the tools necessary to transform will into actionable solutions.
An Evidence Base is Critical
The Leadership Index provides a clear, credible, and evidence-based resource for identifying women’s leadership gaps, and progress in closing them. This data-driven assessment tool captures a nuanced picture of where women are in government and to drive and measure progress toward the 50x50 goal of reaching gender parity in public service leadership by 2050.
Measurements of representation alone are beneficial but insufficient. To achieve the 50x50 goal, innovation is key. The Leadership Index builds on existing knowledge about women’s representation in leadership positions by creating a 3-pillar framework to track pathways to those positions and to measure how much power women actually exercise:
|PATHWAYS PILLAR||POSITIONS PILLAR||POWER PILLAR|
|Addresses access to positions of leadership and the factors that enable or hinder women from entering these positions||Measures the descriptive representation of leadership positions across 5 sectors of government at both the national and subnational levels||Measures the formal and informal powers that women hold in leadership positions|
Empowering Leaders will Drive Institutional ChangeThe Leadership Index is the first to take such a comprehensive approach to understanding gender parity globally. By leveraging global partnerships to collect sex-disaggregated data for nearly 100 indicators, the Leadership Index actively builds a richer and more robust evidence base to identify and target persistent barriers to leadership.
The Leadership Index serves as a launching pad toward a global conversation about what it really means to reach gender parity in government. It allows governments, parties and private sector to analyze where a country stands in terms of gaps in gender parity in leadership.
True parity cannot be defined by proportions of representation alone. To achieve equal representation across all five sectors of government, women must play the same role in decision-making as their male colleagues. Not only should women enjoy the same access and opportunities to lead; they must hold equally diverse positions and access the same resources as their male counterparts.
But before stakeholders can make the necessary policy and institutional changes, they need tools to identify barriers and opportunities for leadership to inform effective policy and institutional solutions.
The Leadership Index enables reformers to answer questions about the nature and reality of gender gaps, such as:
What does it mean if positions held by women are funded with smaller budgets?
Do cultural issues around women in power affect their ability to influence policy?
Do women hold their positions as long as men?
Are women in the same sectors of government as men?
A Dynamic World Requires Dynamic Tools
The comprehensive 3-pillar framework of the Leadership Index reimagines what gender parity looks like in practice, while the index itself provides a platform to promote change beyond the superficial and to measure progress toward implementing necessary policy change.
Issues of gender parity are structural, and these tools enable analysts to focus on the policy and systemic reforms necessary to reduce inequalities. These issues are also dynamic, and the global effort toward gender equality must be able to adapt to an ever-changing world. The Leadership Index is continually growing to accommodate these changes.
We look forward to expanding the Leadership Index in future iterations as our understanding improves and these conversations evolve. Innovative dialogue is key to pushing this agenda forward, and the Leadership index will play an impactful role in transforming global conversations into meaningful change in policies, institutions and systems.