Global Resources

Measuring women’s empowerment and social transformation in the post-2015 agenda

Author: C. Harper, K. Nowacka, H. Alder
Publisher: Overseas Development Institute
Publication Date: Jan 2014
While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have made some progress in certain areas of gender equality, they will ultimately fail to produce the sustainable human rights-based social transformation that is needed. If the post-2015 framework is to succeed in this regard, it must target the promotion of inclusive and social transformations that address poverty and exclusion at its roots.

This paper, published by the Overseas Development Institute, explores the use of social norms as a lens to track a women’s pathway to empowerment, and presents a detailed list of proposed indicators and themes capable of measuring this empowerment. The key messages presented in this publication are:
  • Gender equality must be front and centre of the post-2015 development framework, requiring both a stand-alone gender goal, and gender mainstreaming throughout the entire framework.
  • Prohibitive and inhibitive gender norms such as boy preference, unequal access to health and education, child marriage, and sexual and gender-based violence, should be tackled with clear, transformative indicators to track progress.
  • With recent improvements in gender-related data and disaggregation, tracking trends of discriminatory social norms is now feasible and essential.
Additionally, the report proposes a set of indicators under six key measurement areas that, taken together, would track changes in social norms that signal growing empowerment of women and girls:
  • The exercise of choice over sexual and reproductive integrity
  • Freedom from violence
  • Enhanced decision-making ability over lands and assets
  • Increased participation in political and civic life
  • Equal value given to girls and boys
  • Equal distribution of unpaid care between women and men, and girls and boys