Women constitute half of the world population; their well-being is crucial for women themselves as well as development of the whole society. A good number of international organizations and academic research institutes have developed a variety of indicators and published research reports to measure and track the situation of gender equality in different regions. These indices perform like mirrors, to some extent reflecting the current development levels and future expectations of women in terms of education, economic and political participation and performance and other aspects. However, on the back-side insufficiencies and blind areas exist, which have left the reality half reflected. China, Japan and South Korea are three major countries in East Asia. China has been developing rapidly in recent years while South Korea and Japan have already gained a relatively high level of development in economy as well as other domains. However, the three countries lag behind other Asian countries in some gender equality rankings which is unconformable with the feature of distribution on the rankings. The different features and emphasis of the indices are one of the reasons. On the other hand, deficiency of countries’ performance on improving gender equality have been examined, leaving more space for policy making and legislation. While measuring equality between genders, most of the indices show a public and private dichotomy for which they failed to map out the gender situation in the family domain especially from a local traditional culture perspective. Traditional social ethics and cultural norms especially from Confucianism, such as the traditional gendered division of labour under the dominance of traditional value “Men as the Bread Winner, Women as the Care Taker (男主外,女主内)” still constraint East Asian women. For achieving gender equality in real, there is still a long way to go. Traditional cultural practices can be intangible, which making it difficult to be measured. Taking East Asia as an example, indicators of measuring gender equality should take local features into consideration, and may combine quantitative and qualitative methods to give a full view. Policy makers can make full use of the results of the indices to adapt a more context- orientated serious of solutions, so that women can gradually get rid of the shackles of discrimination in any term in practice and achieve equality among genders.

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Staveren, I. P. van
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Liu, Yuanfeng. (2020, December 18). Two sides of the mirror: an analysis on deviance of East Asian countries in gender equality indices. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/55970