2013 Global Gender Gap Report: 20% of countries have made no progress or are falling behind

ScreenShot027The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report. It ranks 136 countries* (which collectively contain over 93 percent of the world’s population) based on 14 indicators used to measure the size of a nation’s gender gap in four key areas: (1) Economic participation and opportunity, which includes female labor force participation, wage equality and the percentage of women in high-ranking, highly-skilled jobs; (2) Educational attainment, which looks at female literacy, and women’s access to and enrollment in both basic and higher education; (3) Political empowerment, which examines the number of women holding political office as well as the number of female heads of state over the last 50 years; and (4) Health and survival, which is measured by comparing female and male life expectancy and mortality rates.

While these results can be helpful to assess the situation, it is important to note that this report does not account for everything that makes up the quality of a woman’s life. For example, it is illegal in both Nicaragua (#9) and the Philippines (#5) for women to terminate a pregnancy. Gender based violence is also not taken into account.


Main findings of the 2013 edition:

  • 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.
  • The G20 group of leading industrial nations has no representative in the top 10.
  • The Middle East and North Africa were the only regions not to improve in the
    past year, with Yemen at the bottom.
  • 20% of countries have made no progress or are falling behind

Overall, the Report finds Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running. It, along with Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) and Sweden (4th), has now closed over 80% of its gender gap. These countries are joined in the top 10 by the Philippines, which enters the top five for the first time, Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).

Elsewhere, in 14th place Germany is the highest-placed individual G20 economy, although it falls one place from 2012. Next is South Africa (17th, down one), the United Kingdom (level on 18th) and Canada (up one to 20th). The United States comes 23rd, also down one place since 2012. After South Africa, the next highest BRICS nation is Russia (61st), followed by Brazil (62nd), China (69th) and India (101st). At the bottom of the ranking are Chad (134th), Pakistan (135th) and Yemen (136th).

Overall Gender Gap 2013:


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.

Focus on Education:


*Each country out of the 136 is assigned a score between 1 (total equality) and 0 (total inequality) for each of the 14 indicators. The scores are then averaged to determine the overall rankings. According to the report’s authors, the index scores represent the “percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men.”

Download: Full Report I Country Profiles

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Source: The World Economic Forum

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