A New “Women’s Economic Opportunity Index” Joins Other Gender Equality Indices: Close, But No Cigar

A new gender equality index enters the fray, this time from The Economist magazine’s Economist Intelligence Unit. The Women’s Economic Opportunity Index is comprised of 26 indicators grouped into five main areas – labor policy and practice, access to finance, education and training, women’s legal and social status, and general business environment – and purports to “evaluate every aspect of the economic and social value chain for women, from fertility to retirement.”
WEO report cover
However – as with other gender equality indices (including the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index and the UN’s Gender Development Index) – entrepreneurial activity is not part of the equation.

What countries come out on top in the EIU-WEO Index?

  • Sweden
  • Belgium
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Germany

However, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys, these countries have a relatively low share of adult women engaging in entrepreneurial behavior:

  • Sweden, 5% of adult women own a business
  • Belgium, 3%
  • Norway, 8%
  • Finland, 10%
  • Germany, 5%

Certainly economic opportunity includes more than self-employment, but until these international indices include some aspect of entrepreneurial behavior, they will not capture the full extent of women’s economic opportunity. Easier said than done, however. The main reason such data are not included is that this invaluable information is not yet available to the same extent as are health, education, labor, and political data. More’s the pity.


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