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Women chant slogans during a rally on violence against women in Lahore. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD, Oct 24: Pakistan now occupies the last spot in the global gender gap index among the countries of Asia-Pacific region, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2012 published by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.

Pakistan lost the 133rd position due to a decline in perceived wage equality. Pakistan lags behind the global average on all the four sub-indexes — economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. It now occupies the last spot in the region.

With 66 per cent of the gender gap closed, the Asia-Pacific region occupies the fifth place out of six regions on the overall score.

The region occupies the same place on the economic participation and opportunity sub-index and the fourth on the educational attainment sub-index.

On the Health and Survival sub-index, the Asia-Pacific region occupies the last place (three of the five lowest-performing countries on the ‘sex ratio at birth indicator’ are from the region), whereas on the political empowerment sub-index the region occupies the first place.

Nepal moves up in the rankings from the 126th to 123rd position, mainly because of higher perceived wage equality ratio, estimated earned income and women in ministerial positions. Nepal is among the highest climbers of the 111 countries which have been included in the report since 2006 but also among the 10 lowest performing countries on enrollment in tertiary education.

Iran slips in the rankings to the 127th position due to a worsening of the estimated earned income ratio.

A global snapshot of the gender gap in the four sub-indexes shows that the 135 countries covered in the report, representing over 90 per cent of the world’s population, have closed almost 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes between women and men and almost 93 per cent of the gap in educational attainment.

However, the gap between women and men on economic participation and political empowerment remains wide: only 60 per cent of the economic outcomes gap and only 20 per cent of the political outcomes gap have been closed.

Many of the 135 economies covered by the index are faced with rapidly aging populations. The old-age dependency ratio projections for 2030 against the economic participation and opportunity sub-index scores of 2011, revealing those countries among the set with high old-age dependency ratios that have low economic participation gaps and those that have high economic participation gaps. In countries where it is relatively easy for women to combine work with having children, female employment and female fertility both tend to be higher.

The Global Gender Gap Index was developed in 2006 partially to address the need for a consistent and comprehensive measure for gender equality that can track a country’s progress over time. The 2012 edition of the report reveals the trends observed in the data over the past seven years and seeks to call attention to the need for more rapid progress in closing gender gaps.

Out of the 111 countries covered in 2006–2012, 88 per cent have improved their performance, while 12 per cent have widening gaps. In some countries, progress is occurring in a relatively short time, regardless of whether they are starting out near the top or the bottom of the rankings, and independent of their income.

Countries such as Iceland, Bolivia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Lesotho, Yemen and others have made much progress relative to their own situation in 2006. Relatively a few countries have regressed relative to their own scores. While some of these are relatively high-ranking countries such as Sweden and Sri Lanka, there has also been significant deterioration in countries such as Mali, Jordan, Kuwait and Zambia, which were already at the lower end of the rankings.