in Economics, Ramblings

MyWorld, Gender Inequality and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The proportion of women who voted in the UN’s MyWorld Survey tended to be higher when gender equality was higher. 

As some of my developmenty readers would know, this year the United Nations (UN) is set to decide on a new set of global targets to replace the soon-to-expire Millennium Development Goals.

Although I’ll leave the details to somebody else to explain. Which targets are chosen will have far-reaching implications for billions of dollars of aid and those who rely on it for their well being (which dare I say also includes many of my developmenty readers).

7 Million Voters and the United Nation’s MyWorld Survey

As you might expect the global development community is taking it pretty seriously with more meetings and panels than a stick can be poked at. Which is where the UN’s MyWorld Survey comes in:

Launched in 2014 by the UN, the MyWorld campaign asked people to vote for the aspects that they considered to be most important for them and their family (such as gender equality, healthcare and education).

2 years and 7 million votes later, the results are in:

  • Over 50 percent of voters were thirty years old or younger.
  • 65 percent of voters had finished secondary school or above.
  • Most voters were from countries with low levels of human development (as measured by the UN’s Human Development Index).
  • Around 48 percent of voters were female.

And while the almost 50/50 gender parity would seem a good result, when looking at the votes closely the proportion of female voters varied a lot from country to country: ranging from as low as 9 percent for Ethiopia and as high as 69 percent for Moldova.

Which brings me to my fortuitously timed ‘graph of the week’ which seems to suggest that, on average, countries with the highest share of female voters were those with lower levels of gender inequality:

Female Voter Shares in MyWorld Survey and Gender Inequality 

Countries with higher levels of gender inequality also tended to have a lower proportion of voters in the MyWorld Survey

Gender Inequality Index Chart

Of course, it’s worth remembering that this is just an interesting pattern and doesn’t prove that one causes (or even influences the other). The tired old adage of ‘correlation does not imply causation’ certainly applies here.

Despite this, for a stats nerd like me it is interesting and warrants further investigation. Particularly, given the crucial role women and gender equality plays in human development.

For those of you who are interested in taking a look yourself, there are links to the data sources below.

Data Sources:

Gender Inequality Index

MyWorld Voting Shares

Background to the Gender Inequality Index: 

The UN’s Gender Inequality represents a score representing the loss of achievements in reproductive health, empowerment and labour market participation due to gender inequalities. A higher value indicates higher level of gender inequality.

See here for more. 

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