Progress on closing gender gap stalls

It will take another century to close the overall gender gap after progress stalled this year, the World Economic Forum has warned, and 217 years to close the economic gender gap, which relates to salaries and leadership.

While 68 per cent of the world's gender gap has now closed, a widening of the gap in the areas of economic opportunity and political empowerment means that the situation has worsened over the past year. The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017 indicates this is the first time the gap has widened since record began in 2016.

Iceland is the most gender-equal country for the ninth consecutive year. It has closed nearly 88 per cent of its gap over the past decade. All Scandinavian countries feature in the top five countries for gender equality, with Norway in second place, Finland in third and Sweden in fifth. Surprisingly, Rwanda slips in at number four. 

The United Kingdom, in 15th space, trails France (11) and Germany (12) but outpaces the US, which is number 49 on the list, having dropped four levels over the year. It has been estimated that economic gender parity within the UK would add an additional £192 billion to the gross domestic product.

The Global Gender Gap Index ranks 144 countries on the gap between men and women on health issues, such as life expectancy; education, such as access to basic and higher levels of education; political power making, considering representation in decision making structures, and economic participation and opportunity.

The lowest ranking region is the Middle East and North Africa, with an average gender gap of 40 per cent, against a gender gap of 25 per cent in Western Europe.