I’ve been perusing the Fifth Annual Report on World Gender Equality which was released in October, “The Global Gender Gap Report”– no small task at 334 pages – and have been confronted by some alarming statistics. What is this Report? The Global Gender Gap Report is published by the World Economic Forum and was first produced in 2005. The Report analyses four critical areas of inequality between men and women in 130 economies globally, which covers over 92% of the world’s population. The four areas include: 1. Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, work participation, and access to employment 2. Educational attainment – access to basic and higher level education 3. Political empowerment – representation in governments 4. Heath – including life expectancy I’m sure many of us would assume that Australia would rank higher than most other countries globally (certainly higher than most developing countries) in the areas of Women’s Health, Education, and even political empowerment.
Big Picture: Australia scored 72% overall – which is ranked 23rd– not terrible, but lower than I would have thought. Not surprisingly, the Scandinavian countries fared well: Iceland 85%, Norway 84%, Finland 83% and Sweden 80%. Our sibling that is NZ came in above us at 78% (we hate that, don’t we?!) Other countries that surpassed us included: Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Mozambique. And we beat Cuba, Namibia, and Mongolia only by a whisker (about 0.5%). Australia is in fact going backward. In 2006, we ranked a much higher 15th. By categories: If we break up the categories for 2010 it gets worse:
- Economic participation and opportunity – Australia ranks 24th, after Mongolia, Mozambique, Moldova and Kazakhstan (yes, Kazakhstan!). NZ came in 9th.
- Political empowerment – Australia is ranked 39th. Countries like Mozambique (again!), Bangladesh, Nicaragua (really?), Angola, Nepal and Malawi all rate higher. NZ was 8th.
- Heath and survival – This is the shocker – we are ranked 73rd! In a country that I always thought had high standards of health and higher survival statistics for women we are surpassed by Kazakhstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Honduras, Mali and Guyana. This is shameful. NZ’s ranking was also very low at 91.
The good news:
- Educational attainment – Australia shares the #1 ranking with 22 other countries including Botswana, France, Iceland, NZ, UK, and the USA. We are investing in our girls and women when it comes to education. This is good. However what is worrying is that the investment in education is not pushing up the rankings of other areas of economic opportunity, political empowerment and health.
The Report claims that the world is at a unique turning point in history. That never before has there been such momentum around the issue of gender parity on a global stage. The United Nations has created a new entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Many multinational companies are supporting and providing opportunities for women. There is a strong movement around greater investment in girls’ education in developing countries. There is a lot of talk about gender equity around the world. The challenge will be translating that into ACTION. I invite you to consider how YOU might help the gender equity battle. It may be by supporting a charity focused on these issues, creating a more flexible workplace for women with children or educating your kids (boys and girls) about these issues and how they are played out globally. We each have an opportunity to contribute to a positive change and movement toward gender equity and opportunity. Let’s get going on this now. Sources: The Global Gender Gap Report and Optimiss Consulting