Rwanda has been ranked the 5th World’s country in reducing gender gap, the World Economic Forum (WEF) revealed yesterday, following Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4).
Four nations from Sub-Saharan Africa – Rwanda (5), Burundi (12), Namibia (14) and South Africa (15) make it into the top 20.
The report is an annual benchmarking exercise that measures progress towards parity between men and women in four areas: Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Economic Opportunity and Political Empowerment.
In this latest edition, the report finds that progress towards parity in the key economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap – which stands at 59% – now larger than at any point since 2008.
Behind this decline are a number of factors. One is salary, with women around the world on average earning just over half of what men earn despite, on average, working longer hours taking paid and unpaid work into account. Another persistent challenge is stagnant labour force participation, with the global average for women standing at 54%, compared to 81% for men. The number of women in senior positions also remains stubbornly low, with only four countries in the world having equal numbers of male and female legislators, senior officials and managers, despite the fact that 95 countries now have as many – if not more – women educated at university level.
In 2015, projections based on the Global Gender Gap Report data suggested that the economic gap could be closed within 118 years, or 2133. However the progress has reversed since then, having peaked in 2013.
Away from economics, the education gender gap has closed 1% over the past year to over 95%, making it one of the two areas where most progress has been made to date. Health and Survival, the other pillar to have closed 96% of its gap, has deteriorated minimally. Two-thirds of the 144 countries measured in this year’s report can now claim to have fully closed their gender gap in sex ratio at birth, while more than one-third have fully closed the gap in terms of healthy life expectancy.
The pillar where the gender gap looms largest, Political Empowerment, is also the one that has seen the greatest amount of progress since the World Economic Forum began measuring the gender gap in 2006. This now stands at over 23%; 1% greater than 2015 and nearly 10% higher than in 2006. However, improvements are starting from a low base: only two countries have reached parity in parliament and only four have reached parity on ministerial roles, according to the latest globally comparable data.
Four nations from Sub-Saharan Africa – Rwanda (5), Burundi (12), Namibia (14) and South Africa (15) make it into the top 20; more than any other region except Western Europe. The region has closed nearly 68% of its gender gap; however, data suggest that it will only take 60 years for economic parity to be achieved – far less than other more developed regions of the world. But, high labour force participation for women tends to be in low-skilled roles in the region, a factor that will need to be addressed to ensure that economic parity leads to growth and inclusion.