The OECD launched in Côte d’Ivoire a study to unpack the links between gender norms and educational outcomes.
Laura Abadia and Pierre de Boisséson are respectively Policy Analyst and Economist at the OECD Development Centre. Their work consists in highlighting levels of social discrimination in institutions in order to better reduce it. This is made possible through the SIGI, a study which is the topic of this interview. They explain what the SIGI is, what it measures concretely, the results related to the study and its impact.
What is the SIGI ?
A: Let’s start with some background information to understand the context. In 2019, women still had lower human development levels compared to men, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), and Sub-Saharan Africa records the largest gaps. These results reflected the pervasiveness of gender inequalities in areas such as health, education and economic resources.
To better understand the underlying causes of these inequalities, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Development Centre has developed the Social Institutions and Gender Index, or SIGI. This Index which currently covers 180 countries, highlights the key role of deeply embedded social norms and practices that may not be visible, but strongly constrain women and girls and prevent them from achieving equality.
The OECD collaborates with partner governments, through an empirical exploration of this hidden side of discrimination, to develop policies that address these persistent and invisible barriers to gender equality.
What is the relevance and timeliness of this study in Côte d’Ivoire?
A: While some data from Côte d’Ivoire indicate the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes, there is no evidence to quantify their prevalence in different regions of the country or analyze how they affect women’s empowerment.
We propose to fill this gap by collecting unprecedented primary data. We will use a nationally and regionally representative household survey, complemented by in-depth interviews. These should be able to highlight the prevalence of the discriminatory norms and practices, while offering additional analyses of their relationship to girls’ educational outcomes.
This study is the result of a close collaboration with the Secretary-General’s Office of the Presidency, the Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in charge of gender issues, Mrs. Euphrasie Kouassi Yao, and the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
What types of discrimination are covered by the study?
A: The study seeks to better understand how discriminatory social institutions affect household decisions on education and girls’ school results. Despite positive developments in Côte d’Ivoire, most of the country’s out-of-school children are girls. In addition, the loss of livelihood means for families due to the pandemic, may force girls to work at an age when they should be attending school, and lead many families to force them into early marriage.
We will explore four key dimensions in the life course of women and girls: discrimination within the family (such as domestic responsibilities, early marriage, perception of educational outcomes), violations of physical integrity (including violence or limitation of the reproductive autonomy), restricted access to productive and financial resources, and violations of civil rights (restriction of freedom of movement). We will measure the prevalence of these discriminatory norms and practices, and analyze how they affect girls’ educational outcomes.
What are the expected outcomes and how can they contribute to reducing gender inequalities?
A: Girls’ education is a fundamental condition for their empowerment. This study will uncover the channels through which discriminatory norms and practices affect girls’ enrolment and achievement in schools. The study will achieve this by considering sub-national specificities and aggravating factors such as urban-rural differences and socio-economic status. Based on this database and analysis, the SIGI-Côte d’Ivoire will inform the development of policies that address gender inequalities and girls’ enrolment in schools.
What kind of impact should we expect based on the previous experiences in countries where the study has already been implemented?
A: In addition to Côte d’Ivoire, we are currently conducting a similar study in Tanzania. Previously, two country studies in Uganda and Burkina Faso enabled governments to accurately measure gender discrimination levels in these countries, and integrate a gender perspective into the development of national development strategies and budgets. In Burkina Faso, for example, the study findings and the analysis of norms and attitudes that justify violence against women, led to a national dialogue that resulted in the enactment of a law criminalizing marital rape in 2018.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives. Its goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all since 60 years.