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Countries with the worst gender gaps

  • Countries with the worst gender gaps

    The global gender gap as of 2018 stands at 68%, with men and women around the world experiencing different economic, political, and social realities. Although women in Scandinavian countries like Iceland, Norway, and Sweden experience the most gender parity, their experience is unique. In countries like Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad, women have little-to-no female representation in their governments, they must adhere to strict gender roles, and many become victims of gender-based violence.

    Because the female experience varies from country to country, the analysts at Stacker used the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2018 Global Gender Gap Report to find the 50 countries with the largest gender gaps in the world. The list is ordered from best to worst global gender gap index score, with women in the #1 country experiencing the highest levels of inequality.

    According to the WEF, “the Global Gender Gap Index examines the gap between men and women across four fundamental categories (subindexes): economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.” Each category is made up of multiple concepts that showcase the differences between the male and female experience. For example, the economic participation and opportunity score takes into account labor force participation, wage equality ratios, and ratios of men and women in leadership roles. The WEF report provides comprehensive data on 149 different countries. The data is updated as of December 2018.

    When it comes to closing the remaining 32% of the global gender gap, the world still has a long way to go. Of the 149 countries included in the index, only 17 currently have female heads of state, and in 44 countries, less than 20% of women can read and write.

    From developed Asian countries to countries suffering the worst humanitarian crises in the world, these are the 50 countries with the largest gender gaps.

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  • #50. Sri Lanka

    - Global index score: 0.676 (#100 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.549 (#125)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.988 (#90)
    - Health and survival score: 0.98 (#1)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.188 (#65)

    According to the WEF report, Sri Lanka improved its ranking after closing 68% of its overall gender gap. This South Asian country is also the only country in its region to close all of its health and survival gap. The biggest opportunity for improvement falls in the economic sector, as Sri Lankan women earn an estimated 65% less money than their male counterparts.

  • #49. Malaysia

    - Global index score: 0.676 (#101 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.656 (#84)
    - Educational attainment score: 1 (#1)
    - Health and survival score: 0.974 (#83)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.072 (#131)

    In 2018, Malaysian voters elected 32 women to its 222-seat parliament, a 39% increase in female representation from the last parliamentary term. Despite the improvement, some are calling for more to be done. Holding the newly elected leaders to their campaign promises, activists are calling for one-third of policy-making positions to be filled by women.

  • #48. Hungary

    - Global index score: 0.674 (#102 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.68 (#68)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.994 (#66)
    - Health and survival score: 0.979 (#42)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.045 (#142)

    Women in Hungary have experienced limited opportunities for political empowerment. As of 2019, women make up 12% of the country's parliamentary seats—the lowest of any European country. In 2015, when Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was asked why he didn't have any women cabinet members, Orbán claimed women couldn't handle the stress of politics.

  • #47. China

    - Global index score: 0.673 (#103 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.653 (#86)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.958 (#111)
    - Health and survival score: 0.915 (#149)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.164 (#78)

    China is only one of four countries on the index where the sex ratio of women at birth falls below 91%. Researchers have coined this problematic gender imbalance “missing women.” Since the 1990s, a cultural preference for boys resulted in an increase in selective abortions, resulting in China having the most skewed sex ratio in the world.

  • #46. Paraguay

    - Global index score: 0.672 (#104 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.623 (#98)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.994 (#67)
    - Health and survival score: 0.972 (#96)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.1 (#114)

    In 2018, activists took to the streets when a 14-year-old girl died during childbirth after the Paraguayan government denied the rape victim an abortion. The majority-Catholic country enforces strict abortion laws, granting abortions only if the mother's life is in danger. Because of these restrictions, women sometimes undergo illegal or unsafe procedures to terminate a pregnancy. Today, illegal abortions are one of the leading causes of death for Paraguayan women.

  • #45. Nepal

    - Global index score: 0.671 (#105 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.608 (#110)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.926 (#123)
    - Health and survival score: 0.966 (#128)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.185 (#66)

    Nepal improved its overall ranking in the WEF report due in part to narrowing its gender gap in labor force participation. The mountain-side country also achieved full parity for secondary and tertiary education enrollment. However, the remaining literacy gender gap drags Nepal's educational attainment rank down to #123.

  • #44. Fiji

    - Global index score: 0.669 (#106 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.603 (#112)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.991 (#76)
    - Health and survival score: 0.979 (#42)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.104 (#107)

    Fijian women are afforded some protection against discrimination on the basis of gender in the Bill of Rights established in the 1997 Constitution. However, the island nation has not closed much of its overall gender gap. Women in Fiji earn half of the estimated income that men make—$6,245 compared to $12,759, respectively.

  • #43. Guatemala

    - Global index score: 0.668 (#107 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.623 (#100)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.968 (#104)
    - Health and survival score: 0.98 (#1)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.102 (#111)

    Guatemala is the second-worst ranked country in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The Central American country has closed 67% of its overall gender gap, coming in at #107 out of 149 countries on the index. Despite its poor marks for economic opportunity and political empowerment, Guatemalan women experience parity in sex ratio at birth and healthy life expectancy.

  • #42. India

    - Global index score: 0.665 (#108 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.385 (#142)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.953 (#114)
    - Health and survival score: 0.94 (#147)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.382 (#19)

    India, along with China, suffers from a skewed gender ratio resulting in the “missing women” phenomenon. In India alone, there are 37 million more men than women. This skewed gender ratio has been linked to increased bachelors and sex trafficking.

  • #41. Mauritius

    - Global index score: 0.663 (#109 among all countries)
    - Economic participation and opportunity score: 0.585 (#119)
    - Educational attainment score: 0.991 (#78)
    - Health and survival score: 0.98 (#1)
    - Political empowerment score: 0.097 (#116)

    Mauritius is an island nation located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The country has closed about 66% of its overall gender gap. Unlike many countries on this list, Mauritius has had multiple female heads of state.

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