The gender inequality index through the prism of social innovation

Vanina Farber, Patrick Reichert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Gender equality is a central issue of the global agenda. Initially included as one of the main goals of the Millennium Development Summit in 2000 and now championed as a fundamental human right in the 2016 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender equality has a direct beneficial effect on the economic status of women, a reason in itself to achieve gender parity. Additionally, gender equality is believed to empower women and contribute to overall economic growth and development (World Bank, 2012).To track progress towards the goal of gender equality, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed the Gender Inequality Index (GII) in 2010. The GII measures gender inequalities through five indicators across three important aspects of human development: reproductive health, empowerment and economic status. To better depict differences in the distribution of achievements between women and men, the GII is built on the same framework as the Human Development Index. Thus, the GII measures the human development costs of gender inequality.The GII informs action at local, national and international levels. Disaggregation of the GII into its sub-components allows public, private and non-profit bodies to take concrete steps and channel resources to improve the situation of women. In this chapter, we highlight the special role of social innovation in tackling the issue of gender inequality. For each sub-component of the GII, examples are given that illustrate to power of social innovation to reduce gender inequalities through three mechanisms: (1) resources, (2) attitudes, and (3) power. These mechanisms are sometimes formed through the bottom-up approaches of individual entrepreneurs. Other times, changes to long-standing gender biases rely on the coordinated actions of international donor agencies and local NGOs or national initiatives that fundamentally change institutional structures. In short, we observe that a litany of approaches is required from both practitioners and policy-makers to achieve the 2030 SDG goal of gender equality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModern indices for international economic diplomacy
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-84535-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-84534-6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022.


  • Development
  • Economic growth
  • Gender inequality
  • Human rights
  • Social innovation


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