The Gender Inequality Index (GII) analyzes gender inequality in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment, and presence in the labor force. It ranges from 0, indicating theoretical equality between men and women, to 1, indicating theoretical inequality between men and women – or as one site describes, “1 indicates that women fare as poorly as possible.” The index indicates the loss of human development due, in part, to gender inequality, or conversely, the expansion of human development due, in part, to gender equality.
Many people often deny the existence of gender inequality for non-statistical, experience-based reasons: “I have a female boss” or “there are more women in college/university than men” or “the feminist movement already happened.” While these experiences may be true, they are not categorically true. Not even in the United States, which ranks behind China and is just barely more equal than Libya for the GII.
The GII measures these three dimensions based on scientific, statistical measurements:
- Reproductive health: (1) Maternal mortality ratio, and (2) Adolescent fertility rate.
- Empowerment: (1) Breakdown by gender of parliamentary seats, and (2) Secondary and higher educational attainment of women.
- Labor: (1) Percentage of women participating in the workforce.
Today I will discuss the first component of the GII: reproductive health. Stay tuned for follow-up posts this week on the second and third components of the GII: empowerment and labor.
- Maternal mortality ratio: (1) Shockingly, the U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates of industrialized, modern countries. These numbers are behind Poland and Croatia. Note that the maternal mortality rate for black women is more than three times that of white women.
- White women: 11.2 out of every 100,000 women
- Black women: 37.2 out of every 100,000 women
- Women of other races: 17.3 out of every 100,000 women
- Adolescent fertility rate: (2) Two words: Teen Mom. While rates of teen pregnancy have decreased over the last decade, 34.3 per 1,000 women in the 15-19 age group gave birth in 2010.
|via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)|
So what’s there to do? In my lifetime, I want to see the U.S. become a more equal, freer society for both men and women. To achieve this lofty goal, let’s consider the following for reproductive health:
- Improve access to health care, especially for women of child-bearing age
- Encourage discussions on sexual health, safe sex, and ways to prevent pregnancy among sexually active adolescent men and women
- Analyze the effectiveness of our current efforts to curb unplanned and teen pregnancy since teenage pregnancy correlates with higher dropout rates, lower achievement, and more dependency on the welfare system for many teen mothers, especially those who are single mothers