By: SAJJAD HAIDER
Pakistan ranks as the world’s second-worst country in terms of gender equality and equitable division of resources and opportunities among men and women, says a report published Friday.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with faculty at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, assesses 136 countries, representing more than 93 per cent of the world’s population, on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations.
According to the index, Iceland tops the list with the most equitable sharing of resources among the sexes, followed closely by north European countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Pakistan comes down at 135, followed only by Yemen, and its score has fallen three spots since the study was conducted last year.
The comprehensive annual report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas, including economic participation and opportunity (salaries, participation and highly skilled employment), educational attainment (access to basic and higher levels of education), political empowerment (representation in decision-making structures), health and survival (life expectancy and sex ratio).
According to the index, Pakistan ranks second-worst in economic participation and opportunity, eighth-worst in terms of equal access to education, 13th from the bottom in terms of health and survival.
Surprisingly, the magnitude of disparities is much smaller in Pakistan when it comes to political empowerment and representation in decision-making structures among the two sexes, with a rank of 64 among 136 countries.
Among neighbouring countries, China ranked at 69, Bangladesh at 75, India at 101 and Iran at 130. Afghanistan was not included in the study.
Global gender gap narrows slightly in 2013
According to the report, gender disparity narrowed slightly in the current year on the back of definite if not universal improvements in economic equality and political participation between the sexes.
Overall, the report found Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running. It, along with Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) and Sweden (4th), has now closed over 80 per cent of its gender gap. These countries were joined in the top 10 by the Philippines, which enters the top five for the first time, Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).
At the global level, the report found that in 2013, 96 per cent of the health and survival gender gap has now been closed. “It is the only one of the four pillars that has widened since the report was first compiled in 2006.”
The global gender gap stands at 93 per cent in terms of education, with 25 countries having closed their gaps completely.
The report says gender gaps for economic equality and political participation are only 60 per cent and 21 per cent closed respectively, although progress is being made in these areas, with political participation narrowing by almost 2 per cent over the last year.
In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited, it adds.