Switzerland has again failed to make progress in closing the gender gap, coming tenth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Index for the third year in a row. The four top-ranked countries in 2012 were Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The Global Gender Gap Report, produced since 2006 by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), ranks countries on their ability to close the gender gap in four areas: access to health, education, political participation and economic equality. In 2012 the number of countries evaluated was 135.
Switzerland has made considerable strides since 2006, when it was ranked 26th (and since 2007, when it plunged to 40th place), but has failed to improve its ranking in recent years. The new study showed improvement in the areas of health and life expectancy, but backtracking in education.
In the preface to the 381-page report, WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab stated: “The World Economic Forum has been among the institutions at the forefront of engaging leaders to close global gender gaps as a key element of our mission to improve the state of the world.”
Accompanying the report, released on Wednesday, is a video featuring WEF's senior director Saadia Zahidi, who presents the key results of the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report.
On a positive note, said Zahidi, there has been progress in the past year, as well as in the seven years since the report was first produced. But that progress has been slow, with only six countries improving by ten percentage points and almost 75 improving by less than five per cent in 2012.
Zahidi highlighted large differences across but also within regions. No country from the Middle East or North Africa ranks in the top 100 of the index. At the bottom of the ranking for 2012 were Chad (133), Pakistan (134) and Yemen (135). In spite of progress made, Yemen remained in last place.
The report “reveals those countries that are role models in dividing their resources equitably between women and men, regardless of the overall level of those resources,” said WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab.
Women make up 50 per cent of the population of every country, and thus 50 per cent of the human capital, pointed out Zahidi.
“If that human capital is not invested in, is not educated, is not healthy, countries are going to lose out in terms of their long-term competitive potential. So governments and business need to be collaborating to ensure that the right kind of environment is provided for women to be economically integrated.”
Six of the top 10 countries in the global competitiveness index are also among the top 20 in the gender gap index.
85 of 132 countries improved their economic equality between 2011 and 2012.end of infobox