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African Women's Report 2009
Measuring Gender Inequality in Africa: Experiences and Lessons from the African Gender and Development Index
October 2009
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa


The African Gender and Development Index as a Tool

Built around international consensus and a review of existing global indices, the UNECA designed the African Gender and Development Index (AGDI) to facilitate the monitoring of Africa's progress in the implementation of global, regional and sub regional commitments affecting women.

Using both qualitative and quantitative means of data collection and analysis, the framework for measuring gender inequality under the AGDI is broadly classified into three "blocks" which reflect the totality of human development. They are the social block (capabilities), comprised of education and health issues; the economic block (opportunities) assessing access to productive resources; and the political block (agency) dealing with women's representation in decision-making in public and civil society arenas.

The index is in two main parts. The first is the Gender Status Index (GSI), which stores and facilitates the processing of the index's quantitative information. It focuses on measurable indicators of the three blocks by statistically comparing the performance of females and males. The index's second element is the AWPS which is its qualitative facet, dealing with issues more directly related to actual implementation of global and regional treaty obligations through the lens of all three blocks in an addition to a women's rights block. A unique feature of the scoreboard, the AWPS achieves this by reviewing and scoring interventions in the fields of legal and policy reforms, institutional capacity, research, civil society participation and monitoring and evaluation.

In its composite form, the AGDI affords an opportunity for African countries to monitor the progress they are making with respect to implementation of frameworks such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Design and piloting of the AGDI

The AGDI was developed through a series of consultations with experts based in different regions and international agencies. The first step involved a review of existing indices previously developed by various development partners. Key among these were the Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), both pioneered by the UNDP in 1995, to capture the complexities of gender inequalities within a human development framework and to offer a monitoring and policy making tool at both national and global levels. Another source of reference was the Women's Empowerment Matrix (WEM) (Charmes and Wieringa, 2003), which maps out general gender-related issues in various spheres: physical, socio-cultural, religious, political, legal, and economic; as well as at various levels, individual, household, community, state and global. Although the WEM does not indicate possible correlations, it emphasizes the inter-linkages between the various spheres of women's empowerment or disempowerment, and the levels at which these take place.

The review of the GDI and GEM, however, revealed their close association with a country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in addition to their over reliance on international databases which do not always capture African realities adequately. By their very nature of being quantitative, they tend to exclude the important and overarching influence of qualitative data. The AGDI seeks to fill in these gaps by building on the strengths of these models. It broadens concepts of gender and women's empowerment by integrating a full range of socio-cultural, religious, legal, economic and political concerns. By utilising nationally available statistics and other local information, the AGDI captures the realities associated with gender equality and women's empowerment in the African region.

The index has been piloted in 12 countries, representative of the continent's five sub regions. The countries involved were Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania (United Republic of ), Tunisia and Uganda. In each pilot country was established national advisory panels, comprised of representatives of national machineries for women's affairs or gender, health, education and the national bureau of statistics or their equivalents; two independent experts with gender and development experience and statistics; and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The role of these panels included the facilitation of access to relevant and high quality data and endorsement of national reports.

This report is based on the results of the pilot exercises conducted within the 12 countries.

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