Europe continues to lead the way in gender equality, says report
Europe is still a world leader on tackling the gender pay gap, World Economic Forum figures show.
New figures from the World Economic Forum (WEF) show that in spite of slow progress globally, Europe is continuing to lead the world in terms of gender equality.
The latest Global Gender Gap Report shows that 12 of the top 20 countries analysed are located in Europe, although not all belong to the European Union.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top four places were all retained from last year’s study by Nordic nations, with Iceland top of the pile. Finland, Norway and Sweden took second, third and fourth place respectively – and were even joined by Denmark, which jumped from eighth to fifth.
Meanwhile, Germany edged up two places to number 12, but France reported a much more dramatic leap. From 45th place last year, the nation has rocketed up to 16th in the table. That performance is largely due to an increase in the number of women in politics, since nearly half of French ministers are women, while a shrinking gender wage gap also played an important role.
However, not every nation fared as well. For example, the UK actually slipped down the ranks to 26th position on the back of weaker income estimates – a sign that slow wage increases are taking their toll.
Overall, the report finds that progress is being made in closing the gender gap, but it’s taking a while to make an impact.
In the nine years for which data has been collected, the gender gap for economic participation and opportunity now stands at 60 per cent, an improvement from the 56 per cent recorded in 2006.
But at that rate, it could take until 2095 to see the gap closed once and for all worldwide.
Saadia Zahidi, head of the gender parity programme at WEF and lead author of the report, explained that increasing female participation in politics and the workforce have been the biggest contributors to the progress made so far.
“These are far-reaching changes – for economies and national cultures, however it is clear that much work still remains to be done, and that the pace of change must in some areas be accelerated,” she added.