OECD Countries

For the 2014 edition, the OECD’s 34 member countries[1] are included in the SIGI for the first time. Characterised by medium to very low levels of discrimination across most sub-indices, OECD countries demonstrate the importance of sustained investments in gender equality to remove discrimination from social institutions. Yet challenges remain in particular in the restricted civil liberties and restricted physical integrity sub-indices.

In most OECD countries, women’s rights are well protected as concerns the family code and access to land and assets. Overall, women and men enjoy equal rights to inheritance and to initiate divorce; parental authority is also granted to both sexes although practices in certain countries indicate that social norms on mothers as the principal caregiver are still very strong. The legal minimum age of marriage for both sexes is 18 with certain exceptions (e.g. Luxembourg and Mexico). Early marriage prevalence is low, except in Mexico (17%), New Zealand (8%) and Turkey (10%). Challenges remain in unpaid care work, where women spend on average more than twice as much time as men; in Japan, Korea and Turkey, this increases to five times more. In respect to land, property and financial services, women and men are legally equal, although customary practices persist in Mexico and South Korea.

Women and men in OECD countries have equal access to public space and equal rights to political voice. Despite important advances in the past decade, only one in four parliamentarians are women; this statistic masks the high diversity, which ranges from 8-14% (e.g. in Chile, Hungary, Japan and Turkey) to over 40% (e.g. in Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden). Only nine countries have legislated quotas at national and sub-national levels. However, political party quotas exist in many countries (notably those with high shares of female parliamentarians) and have effectively encouraged women’s leadership in some countries (e.g. Iceland) but not all (e.g. Australia).

Violence against women affects one in four women, and prevalence rates of intimate partner violence are high in certain countries (e.g. 36% in Chile, 47% in Mexico and 42% in Turkey). Most countries have introduced specific laws penalising domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment. Comprehensive action plans have accompanied most of these laws, although implementation and institutional mechanisms have been criticised as under-resourced or inadequate. Women’s acceptance of domestic violence is the lowest of all the regions in the SIGI, proving the usefulness of education and awareness-raising programmes. Son bias is not an issue among OECD countries.



 [1] Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.