ISLAMABAD: Pakistan ranks as the third worst country in global rankings for gender equality, says a report published on Tuesday.

The Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) in its Global Gender Gap Report 2020 showed Pakistan is just ahead of Iraq and Yemen, a ranking of 151 out of 153 countries.

Now in its 14th year, the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 ranked 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. In addition, the report examined gender gap prospects in the professions of the future.

The Country Score Card for Pakistan showed it ranks 150th in economic participation and opportunity, 143rd in educational attainment, 149th in health and survival and 93rd in political empowerment. A comparison of the score shows that Pakistan slipped from the position of 112 in 2006 to 151 in 2020.

Likewise, in economic participation and opportunity, the score was 112 in 2006 and slid to 150 in 2020. In educational attainment, the score was 110 in 2006 as compared to 143 in 2020, in health and survival it was 112 in 2006 and 149 in 2020, and in political empowerment the score was 37 in 2006 as against 93 in 2020.

The gap remains cavernous in the economic participation and opportunity dimension (32.7, 150th). The report says that economic opportunities for women are extremely limited in Pakistan (32.7 per cent). Only one-quarter of women participate in the labour force as compared to 85 per cent of men (148th). Only five per cent of senior and leadership roles are held by women (146th). It is estimated that only 18 per cent of Pakistan’s labour income goes to women (148th), one of the lowest share among countries studied.

While a majority of countries have bridged or nearly bridged the educational gender gap, Pakistan’s still stands at almost 20 per cent. Less than half of the women are literate, compared with 71 per cent of men, while the share of women enrolled is systematically lower than the share of men across primary, secondary and tertiary education.

The report says that in health and survival dimension, Pakistan with 94.6 per cent trails behind, which means that women have not yet been granted the same access to health as men.

The political gender gap has narrowed markedly over the past two years but remains wide (15.9, 93rd). In 2017, there was not a single female minister. As of Jan 1 this year, there were three women in the 25-member cabinet.

South Asia trends

Among the seven South Asian countries, Pakistan is placed at the bottom. Bangladesh ranks 50, followed by Nepal (101), Sri Lanka (102), India (112), Maldives (123), Bhutan (131) and Pakistan (151).

Among the eight regions of the world, South Asia’s gender gap is the second-largest after the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where only 61 per cent of the gender gap has been closed.

Since 2006, South Asia has improved the most, gaining six percentage points. If the rate of progress of the past 15 years was to continue, it will take 71 years to achieve gender parity.

However, South Asia is the only region that scores better on political and empowerment dimension than on the economic participation and opportunity sub-index, where South Asia has only bridged 37 per cent of its gender gap.

South Asia has made significant strides in narrowing its educational gender gap. In 2006, the gap stood at almost 20 per cent, the largest of all regions. Since then, the gap has narrowed to six per cent. Female attainment at all education levels is generally on par, or at times better for men across the region — but absolute attainment levels for both sexes remain generally low.

Best performers

Nordic countries continue to lead the way in gender parity. Iceland remains the world’s most gender-equal country, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden. Other economies in the top 10 include Nicaragua, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Rwanda and Germany.

Western Europe is the best performing region for the 14th consecutive year. With an average score of 76.7 per cent (out of 100), the region has now closed 77 per cent of its gender gap, further improving from last edition. At the current pace, it will take 54 years to close the gap in Western Europe. The region is home to the four most gender-equal countries in the world, namely in order Iceland (87.7 per cent), Norway (84.2 per cent), Finland (83.2 per cent) and Sweden (82.0 per cent).

Among the most-improved countries were Spain, Ethiopia, Mexico and Georgia. These countries all improved their positions in the rankings by more than 20 places, largely driven by improvements in the political empowerment dimension.

The North America region regroups the United States (53rd) and Canada (19th). Both countries’ performances are stalling, especially in terms of economic participation and opportunity. At this rate it will take them 151 years to achieve gender parity.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2019



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