1.4.1. Unit 1, Resource 1: Data Sources


Addressing the challenges faced by women in pursuing economic activities — and making the business case for investing in women — requires data. The sources listed here represent some of the best and most readily available women’s economic empowerment and gender equality data. These sources offer searchable databases, country-by-country comparative analyses, ratings and rankings per thematic trends, and interactive visualizations for researchers.1  They illustrate opportunities, challenges and gaps in advancing women’s economic empowerment efforts.

Limitations of Women’s Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality Data

Governments, donors and practitioners have made concerted efforts to fill the gap in high-quality sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive data, particularly in developing economies and male-dominated industries. Robust data resources are now available, drawing on sophisticated metrics and analyses to generate statistics and make projections to fill the gender data gap. Caution must be exercised, however, in applying general data and projections to specific groups of women within a country or region, while developing policy or designing appropriate interventions to address WEEGE at all levels of the economy.  

Most Relevant Data Sources

USAID Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality Dashboard

The women’s economic empowerment and equality dashboard provides a quick assessment of women’s inclusion in a particular economy. It focuses on five priority areas for women’s empowerment, including: access to markets; access to capital; gender-based violence; leadership and agency; and human capital. This interactive tool provides USAID and the broader gender community with a starting point for essential discussions about women’s economic integration.

World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2020

The World Economic Forum report contains comparative statistics of key indicators for men’s and women’s economic participation and opportunities, as well as for educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The embedded data benchmarks 149 countries on progress toward gender parity, across four thematic dimensions: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment. The rankings help to raise global awareness of the gender gap burden on economic growth, and the opportunities inherent in reducing these gaps.

Women Business and the Law 2020

Women, Business and the Law reports data on legal barriers to women’s economic empowerment in more than 180 countries. A project of the World Bank, the seminal report identifies specific laws in each country that create barriers to women’s economic activity. Published biannually, Women, Business and the Law provides an interactive data visualization of legal barriers around the world.

World Bank Global Findex Database 2017

The Findex database presents key findings and detailed insights into how adults in more than 140 economies access accounts, make payments, save, borrow and manage risk. Compiled using nationally representative surveys of more than 150,000 adults, the database is updated every three years; it includes indicators on access to and use of both formal and informal financial services. It provides additional data on the use of financial technology, including the use of mobile phones and the Internet to conduct financial transactions.

 Council on Foreign Relations Women’s Workplace Equality Index 

This interactive site on women’s workplace equality highlights legal barriers to women’s economic participation in 189 countries, by building on and visualizing the data compiled by the World Bank in its biannual Women, Business and the Law report. It underscores equality under the law as a precondition for women’s economic participation, and it assesses the legal barriers women face across seven indicators: accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, going to court, building credit and protecting women from violence.

International Labour Organization Database on Legislation Related to Working Conditions

The International Labour Organization has several databases on legislation related to working conditions, labor rights, and employment protection. The databases provide the world’s leading source of labor statistics as well as a compilation of labor laws, standards and policies for more than 160 countries.

Additional Resources

Food and Agriculture Organization Gender and Land Rights Database

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched this database in 2010 to highlight the major political, legal and cultural factors that influence women’s land rights globally. It serves as a platform to address, discuss and share information about gender and land issues. The database comprises 84 regularly updated country profiles, land-tenure statistics disaggregated by sex, and a legal assessment tool for gender-equitable land tenure.

Growing Economies through Gender Parity

This interactive visualization, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, displays the relationship between women’s economic participation and growth in a country’s gross domestic product, drawing on data collected by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) for its September 2015 report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women's Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth. MGI's analysis estimates the economic effects and opportunities of closing the gender gap in the workforce by 2025 across 95 countries, which include 93 percent of the world's female population and generate 97 percent of the world's GDP.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Gender Data Portal

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) designed this portal to include selected indicators highlighting gender inequalities in education, employment, entrepreneurship, health and development. The data showcase the distance remaining to achieve gender equality, and the areas where action is most needed. The data cover OECD member countries, as well as partner economies including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index

The OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures discrimination against women in social institutions across 180 countries, to identify the underlying drivers of gender equality and to provide the data needed to support transformative policy-change. Detailed country profiles compile information on laws, social norms and practices, in relation to issues such as inheritance, land ownership, political quotas and gender-based violence. SIGI also includes a new cross-country ranking to classify countries according to their level of discrimination in social institutions. Data is presented in an interactive table that allows sorting economies by region, sub-region, alphabetically or by their level of discrimination. SIGI also offers a policy simulator, allowing policy makers to scope out reform options and assess their likely effects on gender equality in social institutions.

UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey

Since its inception in 1995, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey has become the largest source of statistically sound and internationally comparable data on women and children worldwide. With more than 300 surveys carried out in over 100 countries, it serves as a major source of data for measuring progress against Sustainable Development Goals. The surveys include information on violence and exploitation, equitable chance in life, and access and use of technology.

USAID Demographic and Health Surveys

The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program collects and disseminates accurate, nationally representative data on women’s empowerment, including topics such as: employment; control over earnings, assets and bank accounts; domestic violence; early marriage; and household wealth. The program disseminates research results through reports, fact sheets, participatory seminars, audience-centered materials and web-based tools.

World Bank Global Gender Gap Index

The Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women in four fundamental categories (sub-indexes) and 14 indicators. The sub-indexes are: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest possible score is 0 (inequality).

World Bank Gender Data Portal

This portal is a comprehensive database of sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics covering demography, education, health, access to economic opportunities, public life and decision-making, and agency. It covers a wide range of indicators, from labor force participation to attitudes about gender- based violence. Because it relies on national data, however, many countries lack data for some indicators.

World Bank’s Little Data Book on Gender 2016

The Little Data Book on Gender 2016 presents sex-disaggregated data for more than 200 countries in a straight-forward, country-by-country reference, relating to education, health, access to economic opportunities, and public life and decision making. This fourth issue reflects the structure of the World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality and Development, which examined the driving forces behind differences in key aspects of welfare between men and women: education and health, access to economic opportunities and productive resources, and the ability to make effective choices.


The WomanStats Project collects data on all countries with a population greater than 200,000  assessing the situation and security of women and the dynamics involving security, stability, and the behavior of the state. Data for 176 countries is organized by country in a database using more than 350 variables that are made publicly available through the WomenStats Codebook. The information available includes laws, statistics, and practices, on topics ranging from domestic violence to women’s land ownership to political participation. Data and country rankings are also illustrated using world maps.

United Nations Statistics Division’s Time-Use Surveys

This web portal, developed and maintained by the United Nations (UN) Statistics Division, provides data and detailed metadata for time-use statistics by country. It shows the average time spent on paid and unpaid work in a 24-hour period sorted by sex for each country, based on available data as of August 2018. Similar statistics are also available in the portal for the UN Minimum Set of Gender Indicators (Indicators 1 and 2).


  • 1Not all of these data portals are updated annually. The sources listed reflect the most recent data compiled.