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ON THE LEFT: True equality still to be achieved


ON THE LEFT: True equality still to be achieved

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ON AVERAGE, in 2015, over 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes, 95 per cent of the gap in educational attainment, 59 per cent of the gap in economic participation and 23 per cent of the gap in political empowerment has been closed.

No country in the world has achieved gender equality. The highest ranked countries – Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland – have closed over 80 per cent of their gender gaps, while the lowest ranked country, Yemen, has closed a little less than half of its gender gap (48 per cent).

Latin America and the Caribbean has closed 70 per cent of the overall gender gap. It is the third best performing region on the overall index after North America and Europe and Central Asia. It is also the best performer on health and survival and second best on educational attainment.

Compared to 2014, the region has slightly progressed on political empowerment and regressed on economic participation and opportunity, with more than 20 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively, of the gender gaps now closed. The educational attainment and health and survival gender gaps remain roughly the same at 99 per cent and 98 per cent, respectively.

When compared to 2006, the region has shown the most improvement on the overall index and second most improvement on both the economic participation and opportunity and political empowerment subindexes.

Nicaragua (12) remains the best performer of the region for the fourth year in a row despite dropping six places from 2014 to 2015. Barbados (24) moves up nine places from last year, overtaking Cuba, Ecuador and Argentina on the regional rankings.

This is mostly due to an increase of its economic participation and opportunity score, resulting from a rise in the number of female legislators, senior officials and managers as well as professional and technical workers. It is now the best performing country of the region and second in the world on this subindex. It has also fully closed its health and survival gender gap. Within the region, it scores above average on all subindexes except political empowerment.

According to the current rates, reaching parity could take a century or more. However, as many of the measures that are expected to help accelerate change – from paternity leave policies to boardroom targets – have only been implemented in the last few years, they may take some time to bear fruit.

Furthermore, ten years ago the same level of social awareness did not exist around the issue of gender equality and the current momentum gives cause for hope of faster change. Indeed, in a survey of the chief human resource officers of some of the largest companies in the world on gender equality and the future of jobs, we found optimistic forecasts around gender equality across most levels in organisations and in most of the key economies surveyed.

However, there was also recognition of the changing nature of labour markets and a potential reversal of the gains in gender equality unless women and girls are better prepared for the type of occupations that are likely to grow in the future.

Information taken from The Global Gender Gap Report 2015 published by the World Economic Forum.