Switzerland has dropped from 8th to 11th position in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2016, which measures equality between men and women. There has been a dramatic slowdown in gender equality progress globally, the report said.
The annual index, first published in 2006 (when Switzerland came 26th), was led by Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as in previous years. These were followed by Rwanda, Ireland, the Philippines, Slovenia, New Zealand and Nicaragua. Yemen again propped up the ranking.
The Global Gender Gap Index aims to measure the relative differences between women and men across four areas: health, education, economy and politics.
Switzerland ranked strongly for political empowerment (15th out of 144 countries) and economic opportunity (30th). But it is still outpaced by Nordic countries. Health and education continue to be ranked poorly by the WEF report, despite small improvements.
Regarding educational attainment – measured as the gap between women’s and men’s current access to education in primary, secondary and tertiary education – Switzerland was ranked 61st.
‘Acute misuse of talent’
This year’s report warned that the so-called gender gap between men and women had widened globally after peaking in 2013. It suggested that at the current rate economic parity between the sexes could take 170 years after a dramatic slowdown in progress.
It said this was partly down to chronic imbalances in salaries and labour force participation, despite the fact that, in 95 countries, women attend university in equal or higher numbers than men.
The report said there were a number of factors behind this decline. Women around the world earn on average just over half of what men earn despite working longer hours. Also, the number of women in senior positions 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.
At the same time a certain degree of progress has been made in the fields of education and political empowerment.
The report’s authors said failure not to act faster to tackle gender equality, which put economic growth at risk and deprived economies of the opportunity to develop, was an “acute misuse of talent”.