The OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) is a cross-country measure of discrimination against women in social institutions (formal and informal laws, social norms, and practices) across 180 countries.
What are discriminatory social institutions?
Formal and informal laws, attitudes and practices that restrict women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice and empowerment opportunities. These are captured in a multi-faceted approach by SIGI’s variables that combine qualitative and quantitative data, taking into account both the de jure and de facto discrimination of social institutions, through information on laws, attitudes and practices. The variables span all stages of a woman’s life in order to show how discriminatory social institutions can interlock and bind them into cycles of poverty and disempowerment.
Discriminatory social institutions intersect across all stages of girls’ and women’s life, restricting their access to justice, rights and empowerment opportunities and undermining their agency and decision-making authority over their life choices. As underlying drivers of gender inequalities, discriminatory social institutions perpetuate gender gaps in development areas, such as education, employment and health, and hinder progress towards rights-based social transformation that benefits both women and men.
The four dimensions included in the SIGI
The SIGI covers four dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives:
- Discrimination in the family;
- Restricted physical integrity;
- Restricted access to productive and financial resources; and
- Restricted civil liberties.
The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, child marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights. Through its 180 country profiles, country classifications, unique database and its innovative simulator, the SIGI provides a strong evidence base to effectively address the discriminatory social institutions that hold back progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment and allows policy makers to scope out reform options and assess their likely effects on gender equality in social institutions.
The fourth edition of the SIGI
The SIGI was first launched in 2009, and then updated in 2012 and 2014. The fourth edition of the SIGI was launched in December 2018. The latest edition includes:
- A new cross-country ranking classifying countries according to their level of discrimination in social institutions;
- 180 individual country profiles containing comprehensive qualitative information on legal frameworks and action plans to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality; and
- A new database summarising all discriminatory laws, social norms and practices worldwide;
- A policy simulator allowing policy makers to scope out reform options and assess their likely effects on gender equality in social institutions. Watch the tutorial on how to use the policy simulator.
Full details of the changes can be found in the methodological background paper (forthcoming).
This sub-index captures social institutions that limit women’s decision-making power and undervalues their status in the household and the family. These formal and informal laws, social norms and practices co-exist in different types of legal systems including civil or common law, customary law, and religious laws and cover areas such as marriage, parental authority, household responsibilities, divorce and inheritance rights. Women’s decision-making power and status in the family determine both their ability to choose their own development pathways and the well-being of their families.