A unique collaboration between law and data science is playing an important role in advancing and ensuring gender equality in legislation.
The laws of a country shape and change traditions and culture and can play an important role in advancing and ensuring gender equality.
But when we analyse different laws, how do we determine which laws are effective in advancing women’s rights and which are not; which ones work and which ones fail?
Through her research, UTS Law’s Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa has come up with a unique way to answer these questions with the help of data science.
In collaboration with Rapido Social and the Connected Intelligence Centre (CIC) at UTS, she developed an analytic tool called the Gender Legislative Index (GLI) to benchmark, score and rank laws on a scale from gender regressive to gender responsive.
It includes a set of international women’s rights standards that countries are required to meet, concrete benchmarks for particular areas of law, and a way to compare legislative progress across countries and over periods of time.
Dr Vijeyarasa piloted the GLI in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines to analyse areas of law including gender-based violence, labour, reproductive health, taxation and family law.
The GLI is now available online and Dr Vijeyarasa says the next step is to look at a further 10 areas of law across 15 countries:
We also want to extend our study to develop better evidence of the institutional and structural factors that may have helped bring about the enactment of gender-responsive laws as well as evaluate their success in delivering better outcomes for women.
Dr Vijeyarasa is currently using the GLI as a research tool to assess the legislative footprint of four women leaders, from Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia, by looking at legislation enacted during their tenure. She plans to do the same with Julia Gillard’s time as Australian Prime Minister.
This would help us to better understand the difference women leaders make and link this to global advocacy for more equal representation of women among world leaders.
The GLI is also designed to help legislators produce new bills that play their part in correcting discrimination and advancing equality and women’s rights.