The best countries in the world for gender equality revealed, with UK not even in top 15

'Improving gender equality could add £150 billion to our GDP', says the Fawsett Society's Jemima Olchawski

Matt Payton
Wednesday 26 October 2016 10:57
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The UK ranks 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) gender parity index
The UK ranks 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) gender parity index

The UK is placed below less economically developed countries such as Rwanda and the Philippines in a global ranking of gender parity.

The country now ranks 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) index of nations based on the gender gap in key areas including the economy, politics, education and health.

The WEF, a not-for-profit body based in Switzerland, analysed data from 144 countries worldwide and said the global gender gap had widened to its largest since 2008.

It estimated that there will not be economic gender parity for another 170 years, an increase on last year's estimate of 118 years.

The UK's 2016 ranking marks a slide from 9th position on the WEF first's index in 2006 and also reflects a small drop in the number of working women in senior and technical positions, as well as a reduction in the estimated income women earn compared to men.

A slight drop in the number of women parliamentarians sees the UK ranked 24th for political empowerment, WEF said, but the figures do not take into account Theresa's May's promotion to Prime Minister following the Brexit referendum.

Rwanda, by contrast, has the highest share of women in parliament globally at 64%, while the Philippines scored full marks on a measure of the birth ratio and life expectancy of women.

Gender pay gap

Jemima Olchawski, head of policy and insight at the Fawcett Society, said: "This report busts the myth that gender inequality is somehow natural or inevitable and highlights how varied performance on closing gender gaps is, across the world, but also within Western Europe.

"It's unacceptable that Britain is languishing at 53rd in the world for economic participation, is only 24th for political empowerment and performs below average overall compared to our region.

"The moral case for gender equality should be enough alone to motivate us to speed up the pace of change, but with evidence suggesting that improving gender equality could add £150 billion to our GDP it's also clear that we simply can't afford to wait."

The top 10 countries in the world for gender parity, according to WEF, are:

1. Iceland

2. Finland

3. Norway

4. Sweden

5. Rwanda

6. Ireland

7. The Philippines

8. Slovenia

9. New Zealand

10. Nicaragua

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