Closing the Global Gender Gap Initiative

Closing the Global Gender Gap: A Call to Action is an initiative led by the Women and Public Policy Program in collaboration with the Center for International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School that aims to leverage Harvard University’s capacity for rigorous research and convening power toward creating gender equality.

The purpose of this initiative is threefold: to examine and quantify the impact of specific policy interventions, to develop a theory of change, and to stimulate innovative ideas and policy action in order to close the global gender gaps across four areas. These areas include economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. There is enormous rhetoric about women’s empowerment—this initiative’s goal is to shed new light on the channels that successfully effect change.

Our research is stimulated by the Global Gender Gap Report produced by the World Economic Forum. The annual report documents the gap between men and women in over 100 countries in terms of our four areas of interest above.


Examining & Measuring the Effectiveness of Policy Interventions

Faculty Chair: Iris Bohnet

The first line of research is to evaluate specific policy experiments with the goal of not only trying new interventions, but also rigorously examining their impact. These policy experiments and their evaluations will also inform our theory of change. The policy experiments will have the explicit goal of reducing a gender gap of some kind and will require the cooperation and active engagement of local policy makers and institutions, thus marrying the research and policy arms of the Closing the Global Gender Gap Initiative.

Developing a theory of change

Faculty Chair: Ricardo Hausmann

Because gender gaps are often contextually specific and stem from a complex set of interrelated factors, it is difficult to understand how to close gender gaps. Moreover, in the face of limited resources, it is crucial to identify interventions offering the greatest leverage. The goal of this second line of research is to develop an understanding of why gender gaps change over time. Specifically, we want to develop a theory of change as to what is causing the gender gaps to close in some countries, but not in others, over time, using large data sets from household surveys, the Global Gender Gap Index and other internationally comparable sources.

Raising Awareness and catalyzing policy change: Creating and Disseminating a Policy Toolbox

Faculty Chairs: Iris Bohnet and Ricardo Hausmann

The third prong of the Closing the Global Gender Gap Initiative is to raise awareness, catalyze action and effect change. This requires engaging with decision makers around the world to inform them of the gender gaps in their country and brainstorm with them a series of policy interventions that would help empower women and close those gender gaps. The goal is to provide the policy makers worldwide with a toolbox of interventions to implement in their respective countries.