World’s Progress in Gender Equality: Iceland Ranks First

Photograph: Alamy
Photograph: Alamy

Through the Global Gender Gap Report 2014, the WEF quantifies the magnitude of gender-based disparities and tracks their progress over time. While no single measure can capture the complete situation, the Global Gender Gap Index presented in this Report seeks to measure one important aspect of gender equality: the relative gaps between women and men across four key areas: health, education, economy and politics.

Women currently have 60% of the standing of men worldwide – four percentage points up on 2006 when World Economic Forum (WEF) started the report measuring female economic participation, education, health and political involvement. If such progress continues at this pace, it will take 81 years for the worldwide gender gap to close.

A gender gap is not necessarily a measurement of women’s quality of life in general, for example issues like abortion are likely to be excluded, it is about measuring the gap in various sectors of society between men and women.

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Not one country has closed its overall gender gap since 2006 but all five of the Nordic countries have closed more than 80% of it and they now sit at the top of the rankings. Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4) are now followed by Denmark which rose three places to fifth this year.

Nicaragua went up by four places to sixth, while Rwanda came into the rankings for the first time at seventh. Ten countries from Latin America made the top 50, although there were significant declines for both Brazil and Mexico, and sub-Saharan Africa registered three in the top 20.

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In terms of the metrics the global gender gap is at its least severe in health and survival (96%) followed by educational attainment (94%). The gap for political empowerment is the worst of any of the metrics at 21% – meaning that women are represented in about two out of 10 political positions – although, at the same time, the WEF says this is the area in which the world has shown the most improvement since 2006.

Source: The Guardian, World Economic Forum

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