Some countries, like some employers, value women's equality more


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Some countries value women's equality more

  • The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 finds 86 out of 133 countries improved their global gender gap between 2012 and 2013, with the area of political participation seeing the greatest progress
     
  • Iceland has the narrowest gender gap in the world, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.
     
  • Data indicates overall slight gains in gender parity mask the emergence of twin-track paths towards economic equality in many countries and regions.
     
  • Download the full report, covering 136 economies including rankings, video and an interactive map.
     

The Global Gender Gap Index introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006, is a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress.

The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time.

At the global level, the Report finds that in 2013, 96% of the health and survival gender gap has now been closed. It is the only one of the four pillars that has widened since the Report was first compiled in 2006.

In terms of education, the global gender gap stands at 93%, with 25 countries having closed their gaps completely.

The gender gaps for economic equality and political participation are only 60% and 21% closed respectively, although progress is being made in these areas, with political participation narrowing by almost 2% over the last year.

In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited.

Regional Analysis

Europe’s progress towards eliminating its gender gap is polarized, with countries from Northern and Western Europe presenting a stark contrast to those from the South and East. Spain comes in 30th, having closed 72% of its gender gap, France ranks 45th (70% closed) while Italy ranks 71st.

The Philippines is the highest ranking country in Asia, primarily due to success in health, education and economic participation. China stays in the same position as last year. India remains the lowest-ranked of the BRICS economies, even after gaining four places. Japan (105th) slips four places despite some improvements in the economic participation and opportunity subindex score. Japan is followed in the region by the Republic of Korea (111th).

Latin America’s leading nation when it comes to closing the gender gap is Nicaragua. At 10, it has now ranked in the top 10 for two years, largely on the back of a strong performance in terms of political empowerment. Cuba is next (15th), followed by Ecuador (25th). Mexico climbs 16 places to 68, due to increases in the number of female parliamentarians and the number of women in professional roles. Brazil holds firm at 62 despite a slight improvement in its overall score.

The Middle East and North Africa is the only region not to have improved its overall standing in 2013. The highest placed country in the region is the United Arab Emirates (109th), which has achieved parity in education. Nevertheless most countries in the region, including Bahrain (112th), Qatar (115th) and others are still failing to adequately capitalize on the investments in education through greater economic and political contributions from women.

A number of countries in Africa fare relatively well in this year’s Report, with Lesotho (16th), South Africa (17th), Burundi (22nd) and Mozambique (26th) all in the top 30. This is largely due to the participation of women in the workforce. Through this economic activity, women have greater access to income and economic decision-making, but are often present in low-skilled and low-paid sectors of the economy.

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