Two Tails of Nicaragua's Experience with Gender Inequality: the Neoliberal Politics of Measurement and Evaluation on the Global Gender Gap Index Reports (2006 - 2019)


The current work is focused on the politics behind the production and use of one of the most relevant global ranking and indicators of gender in history: Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI). GGGI is a multi-country indicator ranking with the most significant databases focused on “gender disparities” globally. Also, the Global Gender Gap Index Reports (2006– 2019) grants Nicaragua a unique status: not only one of the best performers in gender parity in the world but as the first country from the global south on track to achieve full gender parity in the 21st century. According to the index, Nicaragua has eliminated 80% of the inequalities between the sexes. It is a world leader in gender parity, with fast-speed improvements over 13 years. Conversely, several sources question the positive status of Nicaragua’s “gender paradise” promoted at GGI’s, since at domestic, there have been a weakening of gender anti-violence laws, systematic persecution of women’s movements and the emergence of “anti-gender and anti-democratic politics” in Ortega’s presidential administration. As a result, this dissertation aims to provide a critical assessment of how the political functions played by the Global Gender Gap Index help to foster an informal regime of governance of gender in world politics, based on the case study of Nicaragua’s global leadership in gender equality portrayed the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI) in contrast to the experiences of anti-gender politics and violence exercised at the local level from 2006 to 2019. Our theoretical framework draws on the nexus among Foucauldian- inspired debates of power-knowledge, governance studies from global indicators’ literature and gender studies on neoliberal framing and governmentality. Therefore, this dissertation concludes that the GGI’s forms of measurement and quantification govern and normalizes standards for the global governance of gender in countries through framings of neoliberal governmentality and the governing functions of numbers. As such, Nicaragua’s national identity in gender issues is created, altered, and rewarded as a world leader and top performer, depoliticizing the meaning of gender equality by its newly reinforced connection with governments, markets and national competitiveness. The patriarchal national project of gender observed at the domestic level in Nicaragua is not recognized by the GGI’s forms of measurement and analysis, given that the national gender project in Nicaragua is aligned with practices of self-government that render the GGI’s forms of neoliberal governmentality of gender operational. Granted, the GGI measures global disparities in gender and ranks countries, but its form of measurement and interpretation not only masks gender-based violence as something structural and therefore who acquires systemic change, it is particularly unable to capture rates of gender inequality in non-eurocentered contexts. Instead, it conflates different national projects of gender among countries, which is problematic, as Nicaragua’s government makes use of the national branding of world leader in gender equity established by the GGI to delegitimize alternate gendered mobilizations for social change at the domestic level.


Dissertação apresentada ao Programa de Pós-Graduação Relações Internacionais da Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana, como requisito parcial à obtenção do título de Mestra em Relações Internacionais.


Global Gender Gap Index, Nicaragua, Gender Politics