Which countries are closing the Gender Gap?

The average female worker in the UK earns almost 10% less than her male counterpart, a percentage that increases the more she earns. In fact, the gap in annual salaries between top-earning women and top-earning men can be as much as 55%. But it’s not just unequal pay that women in the UK are having to contend with. According to various studies women are more likely to be in debt, live in poverty and suffer from depression.



It could be argued that many issues faced by UK women today could be vastly improved if they had a greater political voice. Unfortunately, despite having a female prime minister and making up almost 51% of the population, women account for only 32% of UK government.


However, sadly the UK is not alone in its struggle for gender equality.


Using recent data business card company eCard Shack have created a map revealing the most gender equal countries in the world, and some of the findings may surprise you.


The map, which aims to highlight the global state of gender inequality, shows data for over 140 countries. Each country has been scored in four key areas including health, education, economy and politics with a score of 0.0 being the lowest and 1.0 being the highest.


Best Countries For Equality –

1. Iceland. Score: 0.874
2. Finland. Score: 0.845
3. Norway. Score: 0.842
4. Sweden. Score: 0.8
5. Rwanda. Score: 0.8


Worst Countries For Equality –

1. Yemen. Score: 0.516
2. Pakistan. Score: 0.556
3. Syria. Score: 0.567
4. Saudi Arabia. Score: 0.583
5. Chad. Score: 0.587


The top spot on the map goes to Iceland which comes as little surprise considering their strong history in female leadership. In 1980 their fourth President, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, was the first democratically elected female president in the world! So clearly they have been leading the way in gender equality for some time. But it’s not just Iceland’s past achievements that make them a trailblazer when it comes to women’s rights. This year they introduced the world’s first piece of legislation requiring employers to pay their male and female staff equally, From January next year all private companies and government bodies employing more than 25 people will face fines if they are unable to provide proof of equal pay.


Other scandinavian countries, namely Finland, Norway and Sweden, dominate the 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots However the remaining top 10 places are slightly less predictable.


In 5th place on the map is Rwanda, where over 64% of parliamentary seats are held by women, the highest percentage in the world. Ireland takes 6th spot comfortably beating the UK which barely made the top 20. The Philippines, which scored especially well for it’s education and health equality, takes 7th place, with 8th, 9th and 10th going to Slovenia, New Zealand and Nicaragua.


Other notable rankings include the US which ranked disappointedly low taking 45th place, Germany which took 13th spot on the map, France which sits at 17th, only slightly behind the Netherlands in 16th place, Spain which fell well behind at 29th and Malta which was the worst performer within the EU ranking 108th. China joined the table in 99th place.


At bottom of the rankings Yemen scored the lowest for equality amongst the countries studied. However it should be noted that data wasn’t available for every country in the world. Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Chad were close behind as some of the least equal nations, all scoring less than 0.59 in the rating system.


The Future


For most countries the global gender gap has narrowed since 2006, however at it’s current pace of progression the World Economic Forum predicts that it will take over 170 years to close the economic gap alone. But for those countries that succeed, gender equality will bring great economic rewards.


Various studies have suggested that closing the gender gap could result impressive economic benefits, with some estimates suggesting that it could add an extra US$250 billion to the United Kingdom’s GDP, US$1,750 billion to that of the United States, US$505 billion to Japan’s, and US$310 billion to the GDP of Germany. Another recent estimate suggests that China could see a US$2.5 trillion GDP increase by 2020, and North America and Oceania could gain an additional US$3.1 trillion over the same period if they closed their gender gaps.


So the economic case for equality is clear and there is no doubt about the ethical argument, women after all make up one-half of the world’s population and deserve equal access to health, education, economic participation, earning potential, and political decision-making power. Clearly there is a long way to go, but let’s learn for the countries that are getting it right and make an equal and better future for both men and women all over the world.


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