Another day, and another ‘international [insert here] day’. However, unlike ‘International Toast Day’ (15th July for those interested), today, 8th March, was one that actually had great significance – International Women’s Day. Despite being a guy, I recognise that while progress has been made, we are still some way of gender equality. Given that 50% of the world’s population is female, and there is no logical reason why income, job, social, educational opportunities and choices shouldn’t be the same as men – this situation isn’t good enough. However I don’t feel I should go on further, as I don’t think I can do the topic of feminism justice. What I can do is produce some geospatial analysis however to mark this.
There are many areas I thought about looking into to highlight the amount of progress still needed; adult literacy, women in top managerial roles, reproductive rights etc, to name a few. However, I decided to analyse the percentage of the adult labour force that is female, using data sourced by the World Bank. Data from 2014, in the map above, shows geographical and regional patterns of gender inequality in the labour force, particularly in stark in North Africa and the Middle East. Sure, a reasonable amount of ‘Western’ and African countries have more balanced levels of gender in the workforce, but only 8 countries have more women in the labour force than men.
Meanwhile over 100 countries have less than 45% of women in the labour force, 24 of these a shockingly below 30%. There maybe several cultural, social welfare, developmental and even legal reasons why these patterns occur, which I won’t delve into, but it is a important indicator in of itself. This before you consider that this isn’t even the best indicator of gender inequality. This doesn’t account for the type of work being carried out by women here, which may be of lower wage and status, as well as population sizes and growth, leading to a skewing figures as well. It also doesn’t map, social attitudes to women, statistics can only allude. Even in a more gender equal workforce, this doesn’t mean the same opportunities or treatment.
Progress is a key point here too, and while there is a general positive trend in percentage growth of women in the work force between 1990 – 2014, according another map I produced above, there are many places where growth is stagnant, or even decreasing in percentage. Encouragingly, the areas of low percentage in the previous map, are generally areas of overall relative growth in women in the workforce. Nonetheless, there are many areas, particularly in India and Syria (war an important proviso here), where whatever the story, there is a sharp overall percentage decrease. This is only one indicator, but it highlights that, while for some this may be nauseatingly politically correct, there is much progress to be made.
Why does this matter? One, employment is an important factor in self-independence and social, academic and economic opportunities – a basic value that should be available to all, regardless of gender. Two, any organisation or company needs to thrive on the widest pool of talent and the diversity of ideas – with a greater gender equality (among ethnicity, sexuality and able-bodiedness), this is something that is potentially advantageous for us all.
PS: I know the cartogram isn’t the ideal analysis for this data metric, as there is no land mass relationship really, but it does weight and enlarge higher workforce percentages more, highlighting interesting case like Nepal, Lithuania and East Africa.
Data Credits: World Bank