Understanding Gender Inequality

World Economic Forum Launches New “Gender Gap Index” Measuring Inequality between Women and Men in 58 Countries

This article is a press release from the World Economic Forum about their “Gender Gap Index”, released in 2005. There was a more extensive index released in 2007 and 2006, but the 2005 edition was chosen because of its shorter length. The index, constructed through extensive demographic research of each of the 58 countries it examines, is one of the best tools for governments and researchers to identify and remedy the serious abuses of gender inequality which exist throughout the world today. Using statistics gathered by governments, the UN, and outside organizations, the World Economic Forum is able to break down how close each country has come to closing the “gender gap.” The index rates each country according to five “global patterns of inequality.” These include: economic participation of women, economic opportunity, political empowerment, health and well being, and educational attainment.

The survey highlights the achievements of the Nordic countries, which are far ahead of the rest of the pack when it comes to closing the gender gap. The index also places most EU countries at the top of the list, with Germany and the UK leading the way. The US disappoints, slightly falling behind at 17 trailing in the areas of economic opportunity and health and well-being. Former soviet bloc countries are doing generally well despite their lagging economies. China, Japan, and The Russian Federation rank in the 30s. Latin America, Asia, and Africa all come on consistently at the end of the group, excluding Costa Rica (18).

“World Economic Forum Launches New “Gender Gap Index” Measuring Inequality Between Women and Men in 58 Countries.” Geneva: World Economic Forum. 2005. http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest%20Press%20Releases/PRESSRELEASES137 (accessed June 13, 2008).