Women Still Lag In Economics, Politics, Says World Economic Forum Report

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NEW YORK – Women are almost on par with men around the world in health and education, but they still lag in economic and political participation and opportunities, according to a World Economic Forum report released on Tuesday. The Global Gender Gap Report found 96% of gaps in health and 93% of

disparities in education had been closed, compared with less than two thirds of economic gaps and only a fifth of gaps in political participation.

“While women are starting to be as healthy and as educated as men, they are clearly not being channeled into the economy and into decision-making structures in the same numbers,” said Saadia Zahidi, a senior director at the World Economic Forum and one of the authors of the report.

Topping the ranking of 135 countries was Iceland, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland, while the bottom five were Saudi Arabia, Mali, Pakistan, Chad and Yemen.

“While many developed economies have succeeded in closing the gender gap in education, few have succeeded in maximizing the returns from this investment. The Nordic countries are leaders in this area,” the report found.

“On the whole these economies have made it possible for parents to combine work and family,” it found, adding that the policies have even led to a rising birth rate.

Some of the successful policies of the Nordic countries identified by the report were mandatory paternity leave, generous parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives and post-maternity re-entry programs.

The report measured gender gaps in salaries, workforce participation, highly-skilled employment, access to basic and higher level education, representation in decision-making structures, life expectancy and sex ratio.