Gender inequality remains a major barrier to human development. Girls and women have made major strides since 1990, but they have not yet gained gender equity. The disadvantages facing women and girls are a major source of inequality. All too often, women and girls are discriminated against in health, education, political representation, labour market, etc — with negative repercussions for development of their capabilities and their freedom of choice. The GII measures gender inequalities in three important aspects of human development—reproductive health measured by maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rates; empowerment, measured by proportion of parliamentary seats occupied by females and proportion of adult females and males aged 25 years and older with at least some secondary education; and economic status expressed as labour market participation and measured by labour force participation rate of female and male populations aged 15 years and older. The GII sheds new light on the position of women in over 150 countries, it yields insights in gender gaps in major areas of human development. The component indicators highlight areas in need of critical policy intervention and it stimulates proactive thinking and public policy to overcome systematic disadvantages of women.
The GII is built on the same framework as the HDI and the IHDI — to better expose differences in the distribution of achievements between women and men. It measures the human development costs of gender inequality, thus the higher the GII value the more disparities between females and males. The GII values vary tremendously across countries, they range from 2.1 percent to 73.3 percent.
Countries with high gender inequality also experience more unequal distribution of human development.
More details on calculation of the GII are given in Technical Notes.