Though the world still has a ways to go before there is complete gender equality, overall global equality between men and women is shrinking, says a new report by the World Economic Forum.
Of the 136 countries surveyed in the Gender Gap Report, 65 percent have narrowed their gender gap while 35 percent have increased it. The “gap” measures the disparities between men and women across the globe in 4 key areas - health and survival, educational attainment, economic participation, and political engagement. We can credit the increase to a high rate of maternal mortality, low rate of female political participation, and low rates of female literacy.
Sub-Saharan Africa ranked third, coming in behind North America and Europe and Central Asia, and ahead of Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and Middle East/North Africa, which came in last. The only region which did not improve in the past year was the Middle East/North Africa.
While Lesotho had the smallest gender gap with 75.3 percent (ranked 16th overall), Chad shows the largest gender disparity at 55.8 percent (134th overall). Sub-Saharan Africa may be doing well because women are involved in economic life out of necessity, but there are still major gaps in education attainment.
Though the region as a whole has closed 83 percent of the education gap, and countries such as Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana have succeeded in making education universally equal, 7 out of the 10 lowest ranked countries are still in Africa.
Click the map below for interactive details on the report.
Sub-Saharan Africa will need to focus on reducing the education gap in their region over the next few years, as a woman’s level of education is directly tied to a country’s economic success.
Globally, the gender gap within each key area has widely varied results. Overall, the global gap in education has been 93 percent closed, and the global gap in health and survival has been 96 percent closed. Economic equality does not fare as well, with only 60 percent of the gap closed. The place where women’s equality lags furthest behind, however, is in political representation, with only 21 percent of the gap filled.
Though we know many parts of the world have prejudicial attitudes toward women’s role in public life, the overall trend promises a hopeful future for the status of women everywhere.