Is the world any closer to closing the gender gap?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is out with its 6th annual Global Gender Gap report. The report measures how equitably countries are distributing their resources between women and men — regardless of their level of resources.
“By and large, the trends are positive,” one of the authors of the report Saadia Zahidi, who is the senior director at WEF, told correspondent Reuters Michelle Nichols. “85% of the 135 countries listed have made progress.”
Over the last six years, the gaps in health and education between men and women have been closed by 96% and 93%, respectively. However, the gaps in economic participation and political empowerment are much greater — 59% and 18%, respectively, over the last six years.
“While women are as healthy and educated as men, they’re clearly not being channeled into the economy or decision making structures,” Zahidi said.
Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland are ranked as the top five countries while Saudi Arabia, Mali, Pakistan, Chad and Yemen are at the very bottom.
Why so many Nordic countries at the top? Zahidi says they have a long history of equality between women and men and, additionally, have removed the barriers to economic participation of women by making it possible to combine family and work. But gender equality doesn’t have to be a luxury good. In fact, if poor countries make it a part of their development they can actually grow faster, says Zahidi.
“Closing the gender gap is fundamental to country competitiveness and its long-term growth prospects,” Zahidi says. “There’s an objective tool now for countries to track their progress over time.”
Watch (above) what Zahidi told Nichols, who wrote about the the 2011 Global Gender Gap report.