International Day of Women and Girls in Science

By Lydia Finzel Feb. 20, 2020 Weekly Graphs

February 11th marked the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Merely 30% of the world’s researchers are women. This reflects gaps in educational opportunities for women and girls. Equality in education is important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5, but also for sustainable development in all areas of an individual’s life. This week’s graphs offer a closer look on how educational equality has changed over the last 100 years. 

Educational equality is measured as basic education between the age of 6 to 16 years offered to all. The variable ranges from extremely unequal basic education (=0) to equal basic education (=4), where less than five percent of children receive low-quality education. Equality of education is thereby based on gender and on socio-economic preconditions. It is necessary for a democratic system to enable adult citizens to perform basic rights. In addition, research shows that early childhood education influences future life chances for women and men.

The V-Dem’s interactive mapping tools enable an illustrative comparison. Within the last hundred years, equality in basic education has increased substantially. In 1918, most states worldwide possessed extremely unequal to somewhat equal conditions for basic education. Only Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay, Japan, Iceland and some European states such as Estonia, France, and Switzerland provided a relatively equal basic education. 


By 2018, most countries experienced some improvement in educational equality. States in the Global North have a fairly equal basic education. While some countries in the Global South still struggle to provide educational equality, several countries in the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Oman, and Malaysia score quite well on this indicator. Thus, the development over the last hundred years offers a positive view about the future when it comes to educational equality, including for women and girls.


If you want to learn more about country and indicator variables, visit for more detailed analyses.

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