Viz for Social Good, D3.js, Droits des femmes, article

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Starting from a Viz for Social Good project …

Viz for social good is a platform for data visualization enthusiasts who aspire to empower mission-driven organizations and increase awareness of social issues through beautiful and informative visualizations.

Votewomen Logo This time, Pollicy organisation bring a topic through its initiative Vote: Women, which aims to empower women to follow their ambitions of civic leadership and women’s representation.

Through this Viz for social good project, the goal of Vote: Women is to create dialogue on women’s leadership in Uganda and the overall East Africa region, and from there launch their capacity programs. They are interested in :

  • Opportunities to support more women in leadership positions, and particularly, women leaders focused on women’s issues.

  • Data showing the general overview of issues around promoting women in political positions their needs and challenges.

…raising the question of what bring more gender equality ?

From there, I wondered. Even if I do believe more women empowerment in politics is key, does it relate to more gender equality at the end ? Is it the only way to achieve more equality ? And also, is there facts and discrimination that prevent women to access politics ?

Let’s have an overview of this complex topic :

  1. Women in politics today, view from history of women’s right to vote. Are quotas related to more Women in politics ?
  2. Does the women proportion in Politics correlate with more gender equality on the ground ? Does it actually matter ?
  3. Making stories with data, do not forget the people stories behind: real stories from East Africa
  4. The case for gender equality, and how are we going to get there ?

1 - Women in politics today, view from history of women’s right to vote

All countries don’t come from the same way, yet women in parliament spread all over the world

This is the average percentage of women in parliament for each continent
Click play to see how it relates to women's vote right year

Africa and Oceania, on average with women’s right vote granted 30 years after Europe, have 10 to 24% of women in parliament. Asia with 20 years difference comes just above 15%.

Africa and Europe especially have countries that range on almost the whole spectrum of parliament representation for women.

Sources :

Did quotas bring more Women into Politics ?

Given the spreading of women in parliament percentage all over the world, yet with a different women suffrage history, we can wonder whether the use of quotas is directly related to women representation today.

Let’s explore this for each continent:

Overall, quotas use and no use spread all over the spectrum of women representation in parliament. In South America, a majority of countries have quotas, with women representation range from 10 to 50%

The impact of quotas is not that simple. Each country situations might be specific, and a lot of research as been done on quotas efficiency depending on countries situation (government type, type of quotas …) Read more, an example of research from The European Journal of Comparative Economics - 2010

Sources :

2 - Does the women proportion in Politics correlate with more gender equality on the ground ?

And does it actually matter ?

First, let’s consider how the gender equality is measured out there. I found two main approaches :

  • Measure outcome indicators focusing on the facts related to gender equality : literacy rate, enrollment in education rate, wage equality for similar work … A great example is the Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum Read more

  • Measure income indicators focusing on what might cause gender equality as laws and policies : inheritance rights for daughters and sons, equal and secure access to land and financial services, laws on domestic violence and rape … A great example is the SIGI index of OECD Read more

The principal motive for outcome indicators is not to focus on spotting policies or specific actions (which real impact might be difficult to assess precisely) but facts to encourage closing the actual gap. Read more about this

Yet knowing the actual situation of discrimination by laws against women is important, and we will have a look at income indicators as well.

Outcome indicators by the World Economic Forum

As per the 2017 Gender Gap Report, the percentage closing the gap between women and men (100% mean there is no gap) is provided by subindex :

  • 96% of the gap in health outcomes (the gap is almost closed)
  • 95% of the gap in educational attainment (the gap is almost closed)
  • only 58% of the economic participation
  • and 23% of the political gap

The Gender Gap Report analyse that women political empowerment have a positive impact and might be correlated to women economic participation.

In the political sphere, women’s engagement in public life has a positive impact on inequality across society at large. The issues that women advocate, prioritize and invest in have broad societal implications, touching on family life, education and health. Women’s engagement in public life fosters greater credibility in institutions, and heightened democratic outcomes. In addition, there is a range of evidence suggest that women’s political leadership and wider economic participation are correlated.

WEF chart

This is a first clue in favor of the correlation between women in politics and gender equality.

Policy indicator and measures of discrimination against women in social institutions

Using the most recent SIGI Index (2014) and percentage of women in parliament in 2014, let’s have a look at discrimination on four main topics for each country.

  • Discriminatory Family Code : Early Marriage, Inheritance rights of daughters and widows, Parental authority in marriage and divorce
  • Restricted physical integrity : Laws on domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment; Attitudes toward violence; Prevalence of violence in the lifetime; Female genital mutilation prevalence; Reproductive autonomy
  • Son bias : Missing women, Fertility preferences
  • Restricted resources and assets : Secure access to land and non-land assets, Access to financial services

See the full description of subindexes

Note : the Restricted civil liberties subindex was not represented here, because its political representation (% of women in parliament) component is already used as vertical axis

A value of 0 mean no discrimination, so we will highlight all country above a medium level of discrimination represented by 0.5 value, compared to the percentage in women in parliament on the vertical axis.

Please take a moment here to understand that a lot of countries still have discrimination against women in the laws, without talking about culture and gender stereotypes.

For all the subindexes, countries above a medium level of discrimination have a whole range of women representation in parliament (between 0 and 40%, and even more for some subindexes).

Women representation in parliament do not mean zero inequality on the ground. Yet, concluding only from this data and no context might be difficult. What could be investigated is first (1) the relationship of women representation in politics and gender related policies, and second (2) how politics and gender related relate to outcomes on the ground.

Read more on (1) in as the research from The European Journal of Comparative Economics - 2010

Source :

3 - Making stories with data, do not forget the people stories behind, looking in East Africa

Let’s take a step back from the data and the big picture. Focusing on the rise of women in parliament is East Africa, let’s have a look at more grounded stories.

The 2016 election campaign for women in Uganda

Quoting the report on gender and women’s participation in 2016 elections in Uganda , we will see that discrimination and challenges are still strongly present. Uganda has 34.3% of women in parliament, as of early January 2018.

While the legal framework on the campaigns does not discriminate against women and men during the elections, women are facing challenges due to the social, economic and cultural construction of Ugandan society.

These include:

  • Less access to resources than their male counterparts
  • Gender roles which at times prevent them participating in politics
  • Religious and cultural obstacles to their participation; domestic violence among others
  • Sexual pacification of women is the silent cancer in our election. The reports are that this problem is at the peak during primaries

On the media side:

  • Analysts reviewed which women issues were anchored by candidates in their campaign messages Women health and education were discussed, yet 0 mention on Women’s land and property rights while it’s a main issue for women in Uganda
  • Women are less source of information in newspapers on elections than their male counterparts

In spite of the women representation, discrimination and stereotype amon others challenges are deeply present going towards politics roles for women. This is where VOTE:Women and others initiatives come into play.

The daily life of girls and political women in Rwanda, the country with the highest percentage of women in parliament

Immediately following the genocide, Rwanda’s population of 5.5 million to 6 million was 60 to 70 percent female. The call for equality was led by President Paul Kagame. The new constitution, passed in 2003, decreed that 30 percent of parliamentary seats be reserved for women.

As of early January, Rwanda lead the women representation in parliament in the world with 61.3% in the lower-house and 38.5% in the upper-house.

Quoting from the NPR story, here are two different stories showing life and challenges of two generations of women.

Justine Uvuza, doctor at Newcastle University, returned to Rwanda to interview female politicians about their lives

Justine would end each interview asking these female legislators what seemed to her to be an obvious question: Would they support a Rwandan women’s movement? A movement to change not just the public roles for women but to re-evaluate gender relations on all levels? Would these powerful Rwandan women be willing to stand under the banner of feminism? Almost all of the women said no. Feminism? “That’s not Rwandan,” they told her. “That’s for Westerners.” Read Justine Uvuza’s thesis

Leading a debate team in college, from quiet to power posing Quoting from the NPR story

In high school, Mireille found that teachers and students took for granted that the head of a club should be a boy. When she would stand up in front of her class and ask, “Why can’t the head be a girl?” they would tell her, “That’s for Americans. You’re trying to be an American.” And when she did finally become head of a club — the debating club in her all-women’s college — she faced another struggle: Could she and her team members succeed in the male-dominated world of collegiate debate?

Read the full story on

These are no data, but still convey how many more challenges are still barriers in the way to equality. Uganda, Rwanda, along with others countries in East Africa and all over the world are rising in women political representation. A deep understanding of the country political and cultural context is yet key to assess the gender gap and identify actions to take.

4 - The case for gender equality

Quoting the 2017 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, it is pertinent to note that gender parity is also fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive. Ensuring the healthy development and appropriate use of half of the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide.

The analysis also mention that :

  • Compared to general public investment into labour market and education programmes, targeted gender equality promotion has been found to create a particularly strong impact on GDP;
  • Across all countries, making full use of women’s capabilities paves the way to optimizing a nation’s human capital potential ;
  • Women’s participation in the formal economy, or lack thereof, is also a business issue—costing women, companies and, ultimately, entire economies ;
  • Additionally, the global economy is currently in transition to a Fourth Industrial Revolution. In such a highly interconnected and rapidly changing world, diversity is critical to informed corporate decision-making and business innovation.

So maybe gender equality should be everybody’s business ?

Then, how are we going to get there ?

Quoting the 2017 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, all things held equal, with current rates of progress, the overall global gender gap can be closed in between 61 years […] and 168 years.

None of these forecasts are foregone conclusions. Instead they reflect the current state of progress and serve as a call to action to policymakers and other stakeholders to accelerate gender equality.

Still not sure why more stuff need to be done ? Here are some suggestions.

Invest political power

  • With more women in politics, with dedicated measures to overcome discrimination if needed as Vote:Women aim to provide.
  • Raise awareness on gender equality overall. Given the case for gender equality, not only women should work towards it ! Neither should they act only about this. Bring more people to the table, whatever the gender.

Promote gender equality with a coordinated and whole-of-government approach

An amazing OECD report Women, Government and Policy Making in OECD Countries provides a comprehensive, evidence-driven assessment of how governments can play a more effective role in leading the equality agenda.

It underline for example that :

  • Among others, foundations of an effective implementation of gender equality policies are the government accountability and the placement of gender equality institutions within governments
  • All levels of government and insitutions must work together, including women, men and civil society organisations in the policy-making process
  • Planning gender action and measure its impact require relevant data collection and gender-disaggregated statistics

Read more

Civic action, and surely many others !!

  • Great association and movement all over the world are taking action for gender equality, support them, join them, coordinate them, create more of them.
  • You behind your computer, if this matter to you, take action. Maybe you could raise your voice in your country to your friends, to your government. Or support local association. Or make dataviz. Or whatever.