UNDP, Wilson Center Launch Index on Women’s Leadership
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UNDP and the Wilson Center launched the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index, which aims to increase women’s leadership roles in public office by 50% by 2050.

The Index illustrates where women are in government, how they got to their leadership positions and how much power they hold.

UNDP and McKinsey and Company released a report that explores the correlation between gender equality and public sector performance.

28 November 2017: A UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) initiative and the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project launched the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index. The Index seeks to improve the accountability, effectiveness and inclusiveness of public institutions, and is expected to support and accelerate progress on the SDGs.

The Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index aims to identify barriers to and opportunities for increasing women’s leadership roles in public office by 50% by 2050, an objective also known as ’50×50.’ The Index explores the relationships and trends among pathways, positions and power held by women across different sectors of government to understand correlations between different decisions, policies and other variables, and how those decisions affect how much power women hold in public office.

The Index shows a gap between women’s participation in civil service and their roles at the leadership level.

The Index focuses on positions in five government sectors: executive; legislative; judiciary; civil service; and security. The Index finds that civil service is the sector with the highest representation of women, who hold 43.9% of all civil service positions and 29.7% of leadership positions, on average. Although these figures indicate a gap between women’s participation in civil service and their roles at the leadership level, the Index suggests that the civil service “serves as the high water mark,” and is the sector with the highest potential to achieve parity in participation and leadership, among the five sectors of government.

On connections between parity and perception, the Index finds that a population’s perception about women in public life appears to influence the type of leadership position filled by women. In cases where the public feels women are good public and private sector leaders and should have equal access to education and jobs, women are more likely to enter a variety of government positions. When the public is less supportive of women having an equal role in life outside the home, women are more likely to serve in education, health or women’s ministries.

Speaking at the Index’s launch event, Lakshmi Puri, UN Women, highlighted the importance of “solid disaggregated data” in achieving the SDGs. She explained that the absence of data “makes evidence-based policy making very difficult,” restricting effective advocacy for change, impeding transparency and accountability, and hindering resource mobilization to finance development outcomes.

Also at the launch event, UNDP and McKinsey and Company released a joint report that underscores the importance of gender data in effective policymaking. The report titled, ‘Gender Diversity in the State: A Development Accelerator?’, explores the correlation between gender equality and public sector performance, to highlight the importance of women’s empowerment in public institutions.

UNDP’s Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) Initiative works to support gender equality in public institutions to ensure an environment where women have equal access to both participate and take leadership roles in public decision-making processes that contribute to inclusive growth and sustainable peace. GEPA has surveyed over 130 countries and carried out case studies in 15 countries as part of its efforts to measure SDG target 5.5. on women’s full and equal participation in public life and SDG target 16.7 on responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative institutions.

The Index includes data for 50 countries. An expanded Index and full report are scheduled to be released in the northern spring of 2018. [UNDP Press Release] [Wilson Center Press Release] [Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index]

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