Gender relations are the key to understanding the inequalities between men and women. These inequalities
are expressed in many ways – explicit and implicit. The explicit measures are well known and are revealed
in statistics depicting differences in the sex ratio, child infanticide, literacy rates, health and nutrition indicators,
wage differentials and ownership of land and property. The implicit measures are embedded in power
relations and hierarchies and are more difficult to measure. Located in the household, in custom, religion
and culture, these intra-household inequalities result in unequal distribution of power, unequal control over resources
and decision-making; dependence rather than self-reliance; and unfair, unequal distribution of work,
drudgery, and even food. For governments and concerned citizens seeking to redress these inequalities,
gender disaggregated data and indices are tools that can be used to identify gender inequalities, determine
the issues that must be addressed, take steps to redress the inequalities, provide feedback on the effectiveness
of actions and re-prioritise allocation of resources.
United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) annual Human Development Reports (HDRs) have successfully
shifted the development debates and attention from uni-dimensional, income or Gross Domestic
Product based indices to inclusion of non-income and multi-dimensional variables in measurement of development.
Sociology: Different Approaches to Social Inequality Social Inequality refers to the unequal distribution of valued goods and services among the members of a given group or population at a particular point of time. Meanwhile, Social Stratification refers to such a distribution of goods and services that has become permanent over time, they are structured and justified by prevailing norms, beliefs ...
The Human Development Index (HDI) introduced by UNDP in 1990 is a simple average of three
dimension indices that measure average achievements in a country with regard to ‘A long and healthy life’,
as measured by life expectancy at birth; ‘Knowledge’, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined
primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio; and ‘A decent standard of living’, as measured
by estimated earned income in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) US$. In 1995, the UNDP introduced two new
indices: a Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and a Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM).
HDRs have estimated HDI each year since 1990 and GDI and GEM since 1995. The Gender-related Development
Index adjusts the average achievements in the same three dimensions that are captured in the
HDI, to account for the inequalities between men and women. The Gender Empowerment Measure focuses
on opportunities and captures gender inequality in three key areas: ‘Political participation and decisionmaking
power’, as measured by women’s and men’s percentage shares of parliamentary seats; ‘Economic
participation and decision-making power’, as measured by two indicators—women’s and men’s percentage
in employment as legislators, senior officials and managers and women’s and men’s percentage shares of
professional and technical positions; and ‘Power over economic resources’, as measured by women’s and
men’s estimated earned income (PPP US$).
The GEM was intended to measure women’s and men’s abilities
to participate actively in economic and political life and their command over economic resources.