Asia slips in gender equality ranking

At the top of the Global Gender Gap Index is Iceland which has closed almost 88 percent of its gap and it has been the world's most gender-equal country for nine years, said WEF.

Switzerland has dropped a whopping 10 places in the annual Global Gender Gap Report produced by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

In the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index 2017, Iceland remains the world's most gender-equal country, a position it has held for nine years.

The findings show that, overall, 68 percent of the global gender gap has been closed.

The United States meanwhile dropped four spots to 49th place due to women's dwindling political representation, with a "significant decrease in gender parity in ministerial level positions", the report said.

The only countries to close both their Health and Survival and Educational Attainment gender gaps are part of the CEE region: Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

"India (108) experiences a decline in its overall Global Gender Gap Index ranking, largely attributable to a widening of its gender gaps in Political Empowerment as well as in healthy life expectancy and basic literacy", the report said.

The government had boasted of achieving 87th position previous year, "The improvement in ranking has been driven largely by major improvements in education".

In general, companies around the world fail to offer a level playing field for women, the Gender Gap Index showed. That gap will take 217 years to close if the current slow rate of progress continues.

In case of China, 44 per cent of women's work is unpaid, while for men the figure stood at 19 per cent.

"One big challenge for the country is translating positive progress into economic gains for women: over the past year, perceived wage equality for similar work has fallen 28 places to 114th". Last year South Korea was No. 116. Countries in Eastern Europe possess a broad talent pool of highly educated women but are failing to reap the full rewards of that latent potential.

The country has marginally improved its ranking in the sub-indices of WEF's gender gap index. The most challenging gaps are in economy and politics, according to the report.

"The sex ratio at birth aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of 'missing women, ' prevalent in many countries with a strong son preference", the WEF said. Four countries have crossed the 50-percent threshold, and 34 countries have closed less than 10 percent of the gap (five less than last year).

"In 2017, we should not be seeing progress towards gender parity shift into reverse", Saadia Zahidi, WEF head of education, gender and work, said.

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