The Philippines, where women and men enjoy the same access to education, remains in the top 10 countries with the least gender gap, according to the 2011 Global Gender Gap rankings by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.
From ninth place last year, the Philippines ranks eighth among 135 countries this year, with a score of 0.768.
The annual survey shows that four Nordic countries—Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden—lead the world again in promoting equality of the sexes. Other countries in the Top 10 are Ireland (5th), New Zealand (6th), Denmark (7th), Lesotho (9th) and Switzerland (10th).
Countries in the bottom 10 are Nepal (126th), Oman (127th), Benin (128th), Morocco (129th), Cote d’Ivoire (130th), Saudi Arabia (131st), Mali (132nd), Pakistan (133rd), Chad (134th) and Yemen (135th).
Closing gender gap
The world rankings are aimed at increasing the awareness of countries on the importance of closing the gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
“A world where women make up less than 20 percent of the global decision-makers is a world that is missing a huge opportunity for growth and ignoring an untapped reservoir of potential,” Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and chair, said in a statement.
The Philippines performed favorably in the four categories that determine gender gap. These are (1) educational attainment, (2) health and survival, (3) economic participation and opportunity, and (4) political empowerment.
The Philippines got the perfect score of 1, and thus grabbing the first rank, for the first two categories.
For the first category, the Philippines shares the top rank with 21 other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.
The Philippines’ favorable performance in the first category comes amid official reports that the number of females who attend primary, secondary and tertiary education is about the same as that of males. (In certain levels, females outnumber males.)
The country’s top rank in the second category shows that women and men in the Philippines have just about the same life expectancy. Life expectancy is affected by various factors, such as disease, malnutrition and violence.
For the second category, the Philippines shares the top rank with 37 other countries, including Finland, Lesotho, Latvia, the Bahamas and Argentina.
In the third category of “economic participation and opportunity,” the Philippines ranks 15th with a score of 0.763. In this category, countries are evaluated based on gaps between men and women in terms of work participation, remuneration and advancement opportunities.
In the fourth category of “political empowerment,” the Philippines ranks 16th with a score of 0.331. Countries are evaluated in this category based on the gap between men and women in terms of women-to-men ratio in government positions.
The world has made great progress in eliminating inequality between men and women in health and education, but not in economic participation and political empowerment, the WEF said.
But no country has closed the gap between men and women when it comes to health and survival, educational attainment, economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment.
The annual survey, released at a press conference, showed that over the past six years about 85 percent of countries have narrowed the gender gap. But in other countries the gap widened and the situation for women worsened, including in Nigeria, Mali, Colombia, Tanzania and El Salvador.
Pakistan, Chad and Yemen were at the bottom of the list.
Huge gap in empowerment
Saadia Zahidi, head of the forum’s women leaders and gender parity program, said the world as a whole had closed about 96 percent of the gender gap in health and 93 percent in education—but only about 60 percent of the gap in economic participation and less than 20 percent in political empowerment.
“So women are starting to be as healthy and as educated as men, and yet, are not being channeled into the economy, into decision-making structures,” she said.
Zahidi said closing the gender gaps “are directly correlated with increased economic competitiveness.”
With the world focused on job creation and economic growth, she said, “gender equality is the key to unlocking potential and stimulating economies.”
The survey shows that a number of relatively poor countries have made major strides to close the gender gap and rank in the top 25—the Philippines, Lesotho, South Africa, Cuba, the Bahamas and Burundi. They outrank Russia at number 43, China at 51, Brazil at 82, Italy at 74, Qatar at 111, India at 113 and Saudi Arabia at 131.
US Ambassador-at-large Melanne Verveer, who is in charge of global women’s issues, said progress was being made, but women still faced “significant hurdles” in getting access to finance, markets and training and in leading companies where there is still “an enormous glass ceiling.”
WEF is an international organization of large and multinational companies, mostly with annual turnover of $5 billion. It discusses various economic and social issues affecting development. With a report from AP
Originally posted: 8:16 pm | Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011