October 29, 2009 12:17
Many countries are making great strides toward gender equality, but women still lag behind men in political and economic empowerment. This was revealed in Global Gender Gap Index 2009 released on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum of Switzerland.
The index was based on a survey of 134 nations in four categories -- economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival. "The Index's scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men," the report said.
Nordic countries had the smallest equality gaps. On a scale of 100, Iceland topped the list with 82.8 points, followed by Finland (82.5 points), Norway (82.3) and Sweden (81.4). Women there find it easy to work outside their home and find a balance between home and work as they benefit from traditionally generous welfare, the report said.
At the bottom, Qatar ranked 125th, followed by other Islamic countries such as Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Yemen came last with 46.1 points.
Korea ranked 115th, very close to the bottom. The country slid since its already low ranking of 92nd in 2006 when this survey was started, dropping to 97th in 2007 and 108th in 2008.
Korea received 61.6 points in 2006, but improved in 2007 with 64.1. Its points dropped to 61.5 in 2008 and received 61.5 again this year. But it was pushed behind by other countries which improved faster. Korea performed relatively better in the health and survival category (80th) than the economic and political categories (113th and 104th). The country came first in terms of life expectancy but ranked as low as 116th in sex ratio at birth. It ranked 114th in legislators, senior officials and managers and 124th in women in ministerial positions.
Out of 115 countries that were first rated in 2006, more than two-thirds improved their performance over the last four years, the report said. But women still had a low rate of participation in parliament, government and corporate boards.
Countries have closed almost 93 percent of the gap in education but only 60 percent of the gap in economic activity and 17 percent in politics, the report added.
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