Gender and the Non-Profit Sector

by Nuno S. Themudo, The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 39; 2009.

Is there a relationship between women’s empowerment and the efficacy of social impact work? This trailblazing article by Nuno Themudo says yes. His research shows that the more empowered a country’s women are, the more vibrant its nonprofit sector is.

Themudo compares data from forty countries to study the relationship between women’s empowerment, voluntary action, and the social impact sector. The data presents a strong and positive relationship between all three. In lay terms: high numbers of women employed in social impact work indicates a thriving sector where more people are employed, retained, and supported by larger numbers of volunteers.

Themudo maps the United Nations Development Programme (UN DP) Gender Empowerment Measure against the percentage of the population employed in nonprofits for countries from Pakistan to Norway. He finds that the more empowered women are in a society, the stronger the nonprofit sector. What is not demonstrated by the data is causality. The research cannot pinpoint whether empowered women in society leads to a vital nonprofit sector or whether a strong nonprofit sector provides opportunities for greater recognition and empowerment of women in society. Themudo finds that the nonprofit sector is not a “waste basket” for women who could not make it in other sectors. Instead, the more empowered women are, the more likely they are to work in the nonprofit sector.

To view the full article and check where Australia stands comparatively, see: nvs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/ abstract/38/4/663

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