The world’s gender gaps narrowed slightly in 2013, according to the 8th edition of the Global Gender Gap Report, which is published today.
The Global Gender Gap Report, produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF), ranks 136 countries on their ability to close the gender inequality gap in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; political empowerment; and health and survival.
The 2013 Report 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.
Here are some highlights (source: WEF press release)
Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Philippines top the list of 136 nations, based on political participation, economic equality and rights like education and health. The Philippines enters the top five for the first time and is the highest ranking country in Asia, primarily due to success in health, education and economic participation. These countries are joined in the top 10 by Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).
At the global level, the Report finds that in 2013, 96% of the health and survival gender gap has now been closed. In terms of education, 25 countries have closed their gaps completely. The gender gaps for economic equality and political participation are closed only 60% and 21% respectively, although progress is being made in these areas, with political participation gap narrowing by almost 2% over the last year. In both developing and developed countries alike, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited.
At regional level: Europe’s progress 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 hightes ranking country in Asia. China stays in the same position as last year. India remains the lowest-ranked of the BRICS economies. Japan (105th) slips four places despite some improvements in the economic participation and opportunity subindex score.
Latin America: Nicaragua 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.
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. 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 2013 Report: Lesotho (16th), South Africa (17th), Burundi (22nd) and Mozambique (26th) are 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.
“Countries will need to start thinking of human capital very differently – including how they integrate women into leadership roles. This shift in mindset and practice is not a goal for the future, it is an imperative today.” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
“Both within countries and between countries are two distinct tracks to economic gender equality, with education serving as the accelerator. For countries that provide this basic investment, women’s integration in the workforce is the next frontier of change. For those that haven’t invested in women’s education, addressing this obstacle is critical to women’s lives as well as the strength of economies” Saadia Zahidi, co-author of the Report and Head of the Women Leaders and Gender Parity Programme.