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Gender equality infographic: Which countries are closing the gap?

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In Australia today the average female worker earns 15.3% less than a male worker. That’s almost 10 minutes of unpaid labor for every hour worked. But it’s not just unequal pay plaguing women across the country. According to research women are more likely to be depressed, retire into poverty and be victims of domestic violence. Many of the struggles women face today could arguably be attributed to their underrepresentation in government, with women representing only 32% of parliament, despite making up over 50% of the population.

But Australia is not alone in its gender equality struggle.

Ethical business card company eCard Shack have used World Economic Forum (WEF) data to create a map revealing the most gender equal countries in the world, and it’s not great news for those of us down under.

The countries

Over 140 countries were scored in four key areas including health, education, economy and politics. The map, which aims to highlight the global state of gender inequality, shows Australia ranking disappointedly low at 46 just behind the US (45) and countries like Bulgaria (41), Jamaica (42) and Trinidad and Tobago (44) who all offer better overall equality for women.

The best countries for equality –

  1. Iceland
  2. Finland
  3. Norway
  4. Sweden
  5. Rwanda

The worst countries for equality –

  1. Yemen
  2. Pakistan
  3. Syria
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Chad

Iceland takes the top spot on the map for the most gender equal country in the world, and considering their strong history in female leadership (their fourth President, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, was the first democratically elected female president in the world!) it’s hardly surprising. But it’s not just Iceland’s past achievements that define the country as an equality trailblazer. This year they became the first country in the world to introduce legislation requiring employers to pay their male and female staff equally. From January next year all government bodies and private companies who employ more than 25 people will have to prove that they provide equal pay to men and women or face fines.

Other less than shocking results on the map go to 2nd, 3rd and 4th place which is dominated by the Scandinavian countries, namely Finland, Norway and Sweden.

However, the holders of the remaining top 10 may come as a surprise to some.

Rwanda, where over 64% of parliamentary seats are held by women (the highest percentage in the world) takes 5th place on the map. Ireland comes in 6th and the Philippines, which scored exceptionally for it’s education and health equality takes 7th. Slovenia, New Zealand and Nicaragua take the 8th, 9th and 10th spots.

At the other end of the table war-torn Yemen ranks as the lowest for equality. Although it should be noted that data wasn’t available for every country in the world. Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Chad are close behind as some of the least equal nations.

Other notable rankings include the UK which barely made it into the top 20, sitting just ahead of Mozambique which ranked 21st. Germany took 13th spot on the map, just beating Namibia at 14th.  France comes in at 17th, only slightly behind the Netherlands which sits at 16th place. Spain fell well behind at 29th, but Malta was the worst performer within the EU ranking at 108th. China joined the table in 99th place.

The future

While the global gender gap has narrowed for most countries since 2006, the WEF suggests that, at its current pace, it will take over 170 years to close the economic gap alone. For the countries that get there however, the rewards will be plentiful.

Various studies have suggested that improving gender parity could result in notable economic benefits, with some estimates suggesting it could add an additional US$250 billion to the United Kingdom’s GDP, US$1,750 billion to that of the United States, US$505 billion to Japan’s, and US$310 billion to the GDP of Germany[1].

So the economic case for closing the gender gap is clear and there is no doubt about the values-based argument. Women are after all one half of the world’s population and deserve equal access to health, education, economic participation, earning potential, and political power. It’s about time we all learned from the countries that are getting it right and make the future better for both men and women all over the world.

About Chris Rowson

chrisr@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Chris Rowson is the founder of eCard Shack , which provides businesses all over the world with high quality corporate eCards for Christmas, New Year and other Holidays.

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