ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has been ranked the second-worst country in the world for gender inequality for the second consecutive year.
According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2016, released on Tuesday, Pakistan ranks 143 out of 144 countries in the gender inequality index, way behind Bangladesh and India which rank 72nd and 87th respectively.
Pakistan is also the worst performing state in South Asia and has been for the last couple of years, while Sri Lanka ranks 100th, Nepal 110th, the Maldives 115th and Bhutan 121st.
Declared worst-performing country in South Asia; only Yemen is ranked lower
The only country ranked below Pakistan is Yemen (144), while Syria is one place ahead at 142.
Pakistan ranked 112th in 2006, the first year of the report. Since then, its position has been deteriorating every year. Pakistan ranked 135th in 2013, 141st in 2014 and 143rd in 2015.
The report captures progress towards parity between men and women in four areas: educational attainment, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment.
In its latest edition, the report finds that progress towards parity in the economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap — which stands at 59pc — now larger than at any point since 2008.
Iceland took the top spot for the 8th consecutive year, followed by Finland in second and Norway in third place. Several developing and emerging markets have also made it into the top 20, but the United States ranks 45.
Amir Jahangir, CEO of Mishal Pakistan — the partner institute of the WEF’s Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network — told Dawn Pakistan was one of the few countries in the world that did not have woman as a federal minister; only two state ministers at the centre are women.
He further said the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, each also had only one woman minister in their cabinet, while Balochistan has no women in the cabinet.
The report notes that while Pakistan is making progress on closing the secondary education enrolment gender gap, and on women’s estimated earned income, but this is partly offset by reversals on wage equality and female-to-male literacy ratio.
Pakistan’s scores on the four pillars have not improved much from past years; its ranking in the Economic Participation and Opportunity and Education Attainment indexes have not changed since 2015.
On the Health and Survival pillar, Pakistan has moved up one rank from 125 last year to 124 this year. However, on Political Empowerment, Pakistan has been ranked 90th as compared to 87th the previous year.
In South Asia, Bangladesh and India are the top-ranked countries, having closed just under 70pc and 68pc of their overall gender gap, respectively, while the lowest-ranked countries are Bhutan and Pakistan, having closed 64pc and 56pc of their overall gender gap, respectively.
No country in the region has fully closed its Educational Attainment gender gap, and only one country, Sri Lanka, has fully closed its Health and Survival gender gap. However, the region is also home to one of the top five climbers over the past decade on the overall Index and on Educational Attainment: Nepal.
Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2016