S.Africa, Lesotho among top 10 in gender equality: WEF

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The Independent Online

Two southern African states -- South Africa and Lesotho -- have leapt into top 10 ranking of countries where women face the least discrimination, the World Economic Forum said Tuesday.

South Africa sprang from 22 to number six, while Lesotho climbed from 16 to number 10 in the WEF's Global Gender Gap Index which measures economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, health and survival of women in 134 countries.

"The latest data reveal that South Africa makes significant improvements in female labour force participation in addition to gains for women in parliament and in ministerial positions in the new government," said the WEF.

Lesotho also climbed into the top 10 "driven by large gains in the labour force participation of women and narrowing wage gaps", it added.

Overall, Nordic countries continue to offer women the most equal treatment compared to men, with Iceland ranking number one, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Ranked ninth, the Philippines was the only Asian country in the top 10. It had "closed the gender gap on both education and health and is among only 12 in the world to have done so," according to the WEF.

Sri Lanka was the next best performer among Asian countries, ranking 16th due to its "privileged position having the best performance in the region regarding political empowerment".

At the other end of the scale was Yemen, while Chad and Pakistan were ranked second and third worst in terms of equal opportunities for women.