Tuesday 4 November 2008

Measuring progress in gender equality

Within the framework of its Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies ("of" societies, not "in" societies!!), the OECD has initated, since March 2008, www.wikigender.org - a platform for exchange on gathering empirical evidence and measuring change in gender equality. The site is managed by a team within OECD in Paris, with the support of an intriguing mix of partners, including UNFPA, the Norwegian and Swedish Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Indian Centre for Economic and Social Studies, as well as the World Bank group, among others.

Wikigender works like Wikipedia: anyone who registers can contribute to the site. I made a few test searches: "FGM" (female genital mutilation) and "domestic violence" yielded long articles - pretty much the same as what you find in the "ordinary" English language wikipedia). The short entry on "sex ratio" leads to a more comprehensive article on "missing women". There were no entries on "queer", "homosexuality", "transgender", "lesbian", "abortion", "gender based violence" or "rape". The ordinary Wikipedia is richer, covering a wide range of issues pertaining to gender equality. Clearly, Wikigender is not a comprehensive encyclopedia of gender equality. But since it functions like an encyclopedia, i.e. you type in what you look for and a page opens, it leaves the user uncertain as to where to find the promised new insights on measuring change in gender equality.

The OECD Gender, Institutions and Development Data Base, which wikigender is based on, may be easier to use when it comes to looking up country statistics . But there are no country data on most European and other rich countries. Then you have the statistics available through the UN Women Watch site, or the rich AWID site (links in my list below), or the gender-disaggregated data of the UNDP Human Development Report... I wonder whether things wouldn't be easier if everybody just agreed to post everything on wikipedia....

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