Gender Empowerment Measure
UNDP Human Development Report Office
To capture gender inequality in three key areas: the extent of women’s political participation and decision-making, economic participation and decision-making power and the power exerted by women over economic resources.
A composite indicator used for the Human Development Report, widely quoted in international media.
The measure uses estimated earned income based on non-agricultural wages, percentage of parliamentary seats by gender, percentage of technical positions held by women and percentage of legislators, senior officials and managers who are women.
The GEM coverage includes all UN members for which data is available.
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Calculating the GEM involves several steps:
First, percentages for females and males are calculated in each of three areas. The first area is the relative number of parliamentary seats held. The second area is measured by two sub-components: a) legislators, senior officials, and managers, and b) professional and technical positions. The third area is measured by the estimated earned income (at purchasing power parity US$).
Second, for each area, the pair of gender percentages are combined into an Equally Distributed Equivalent Percentage (EDEP) that rewards gender equality and penalizes inequality. It is calculated as the harmonic mean of the two components.
The EDEP for economic participation is the unweighted average of the EDEP for each of its sub-components. The EDEP for income is computed from gender sub-values that are indexed to a scale from 100 to 40,000 (PPP US$).
And last, the GEM is the unweighted average of the three Equally Distributed Equivalent Percentages.
The diagram here summarizes how the GEM is constructed (Technical note 1 HDR 2007/2008 )
The index runs from 0 to 1 with 1 being the maximum. A higher score is desirable.
This measure should be used to advocate further opportunities for women. The regular production, and publication of the supporting data means that the measure can also be dissected to examine the factors underlying any result.
The UNDP HDR produces a separate Gender Development Index (GDI), which focuses more on women’s capabilities. The empowerment measure is not designed as a development measure.
The core underlying assumption is that empowered women would make the same choices as men. That is that they would go for the same jobs, seek election to parliament just as frequently and undertake work at similar levels. The implication of this is that empowerment concerns not just the ability and opportunity to make choices, but that those choices would be exercised in a particular manner. Note that empowerment data which relate only to choices (not their result) is not available.
For calculating the female share of the wage bill the measure has assumed that the ratio of female to male wages in non-agricultural jobs applies to the whole economy. For missing data the authors substitute a value of 0.75 for the ratio of female to male non-agricultural wage, implying that unless other data is available it is assumed that women earn approx ¾ of the male wage.