2011 Global Gender Gap Report Shows Largest Gaps in Political and Economic Participation

2011 Global Gender Gap Report Shows Largest Gaps in Political and Economic Participation

WEF_GenderGap_rpt2011-212x300Yesterday, the World Economic Forum released its sixth annual Global Gender Gap Report.  According to the report, while 85% of countries have improved their gender equality ratios over the last six years, for the rest of the world the situation is declining, most notably in several African and South American countries.

The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:   economic participation and opportunity –salaries, participation and highly-skilled employment; education – access to basic and higher level education; political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures; health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio.  The index scores represent the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men in the different areas.


The report shows that gaps in education and health have been closing, with  96% of the health gaps and 93% of the education gaps already closed.

According to the report, economic and political participation show the largest gaps.   For the first time, the report analysed national policies designed to facilitate female workforce participation.  The data, based on information from almost 60 countries, shows that while 88% of countries have legislation prohibiting gender-based workplace discrimination, and less than 45% have a national benchmarking tool. According to the report, 20% of countries surveyed have mandated female corporate board representation and 30% have mandated political participation.


“Smaller gender gaps are directly correlated with increased economic competitiveness,” says Saadia Zahidi, Senior Director, Head of the World Economic Forum’s Women Leaders and Gender Parity Programme and report co-author. “With the world’s attention on job creation and economic growth, gender equality is the key to unlocking potential and stimulating economies.”


In terms of education, the report showed that literacy levels remain alarmingly low across many part of Africa and Asia, with gaps remaining highest in Ethiopia, Chad, Mali, Benin, Yemen, Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, The Gambia, Senegal, Morocco, Nepal, India and Nigeria.


Progress at the primary level was most noticeable.  While 59 of the 130 countries measured had a female-to-male ratio under 1, only 10 countries showed a ratio under 0.90: Chad, Nepal, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire, Pakistan, Mali, Angola, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Benin.  Even Chad, the lowest, had reached a female-to-male ratio of 0.70.

At the secondary level, of the 49 countries that had failed to close the gender gap, 20 countries were below the female-to-male ration of 0.90, and three – Benin, Yemen and Chad, were below a 0.50 ratio.

Gaps in education remained the widest at the tertiary level.  Of the 46 countries where the female-to-male ratio has not yet reached 1.0, 16 have ratios of 0.50 less.  In Chad, the ratio is 0.17.

[ It should be noted that the Global Gender Report does not cover many of the Least Developed Countries, for whom gender equity in education remains a serious challenge.]


World Economic Forum Press Release http://www.weforum.org/news/economic-equality-fails-match-health-and-education-progress-women-worldwide-study-released

The World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2011 http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap

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