Countries With the Widest Gender Gaps

The Global Gender Gap Index accesses disparities in education, health, politics, and economic participation.

The World Economic Forum published the first Global Gender Gap Index in 2006, and there has been a significant improvement on the gender equality issues across the globe. In 2017, the average gap globally stands at 68% implying that there remains only 32% in the four different metric measures used to close the gap. The index aims to measure elements of parity between men and women in 144 different emerging economies across the world. This gap is determined by benchmarking national gender disparities in four key sectors such as education, health, economic participation, and politics. While ten countries have been able to close more than 80% of the gender gap within their jurisdictions, there are other nations where the gap is still massive. The index ranks the countries on a range of 0 to 1 where 0 represents inequality, and a score of 1 denotes equality.

10. Jordan

There are practically no women in Jordan’s political field and in particular the ministerial positions. As a result, the country’s score on political empowerment stands at 0.075. Economic participation is still a challenge for women as is the opportunity to participate in economic activities due to difficulties in accessing financial services. This situation is juxtaposed to Jordan’s significantly educated population. Educational attainment in Jordan is relatively equal among both males and females. Overall, the country ranked at 135 out of 144 on the Gender Gap Index with a score of 0.604.

9. Morocco

Morocco is a relatively advanced country compared to other African states. However, it scores quite low on the Gender Gap Index with a score of 0.598 ranking at 136 out of 144. The access to economic opportunities remains a challenge for many women in the country. This situation has informed the low score of 0.391 in economic participation and opportunity. Morocco also scores low on political empowerment ranking at position 100 with a 0.117 score.

8. Lebanon

Lebanon’s score of 0.596 on the Gender Gap Index has been influenced predominantly by the low scores on political empowerment (0.019) and economic participation and opportunity (0.440). Although women can get jobs in businesses across the country, Lebanon’s laws do not mandate equal pay and women still do not have inheritance rights. In the political sphere, almost no women hold ministerial positions or any work in parliament.

7. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been recognized as one of the countries that has made significant strides to close the gender gap. As of 2017, Saudi Arabia’s score on the Gender Gap Index was 0.584 ranking at 138. In 2015, women were granted the right to vote and also participate in municipal elections as candidates. 2017 also saw the permission to drive being granted to women. Even so, the country still holds among the lowest scores concerning political empowerment (0.077) and economic participation and opportunity (0.320).

6. Mali

Mali does not have any non-discrimination laws relating to hiring and pay. This fact has translated to the score of 0.518 in economic participation and opportunity on the Gender Gap Index. Female children have inheritance rights although partially and women have partial rights to own, control, and use land. Mali’s lowest score was on educational attainment which ranked the country at 140. Overall, Mali attained a 0.583 score ranking at position 139 out of 144.

5. Iran

Iran’s score on the Gender Gap Index in 2017 was 0.583 ranking at position 140. This score is informed by the low scores in economic participation and opportunity as well as political empowerment. Iran ranks at 140 on economic participation and opportunity with a score of 0.357. Women in the country do not have full control and ownership of land and other assets. Furthermore, they do not have full access to financial services. As a result, this has not only influenced the participation of women in economic activities but also in politics.

4. Chad

Chad ranks at position 141 on the Gender Gap Index with a score of 0.575. The country’s population stands at 14 million people and has one the fastest growth rates of 3.08%. The biggest challenge impacting Chad’s efforts in closing its gender gap lies in education and political empowerment. The country ranked at 144 on educational attainment. Women in Chad are considerably less likely to be literate or educated compared to their male counterparts. This fact has also translated to the low participation of women in economic activities and involvement in political activities. Chad’s score of 0.087 on the political empowerment index ranked the country at position 120.

3. Syria

Syria has been rocked by political turmoil in the past few years. The population of the country counts to about 18 million people, but due to the unrest, the country’s growth rate has slowed down tremendously to -1.26%. The 2017 Gender Gap Index ranked Syria at 142 out of the 144 countries with a score of 0.568. This score was informed by the scores relating to political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity. Female children in Syria are not accorded inheritance rights. Additionally, the vast majority of those with political power and those in the labor force are male. However, Syria ranked first on health and survival with a score of 0.980.

2. Pakistan

Pakistan’s score on the Gender Gap Index in 2017 was 0.546 ranking it just above Yemen out of the 144 countries. The lowest scores contributing to Pakistan’s rank on the index relate to political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity. In 2017, Pakistan ranked 95th out of 144 countries on political empowerment with a score of 0.127. Pakistani law does not cite much relating to non-discrimination about recruitment. It also does not dictate equal pay. Even so, Pakistan is one of the few Middle Eastern countries that has had a female head of state, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.

1. Yemen

Yemen ranks at the top of the list of countries with the widest gender gaps primarily due to restrictive laws that disadvantage women. This country does not have any women in parliament which translated to a score of 0.014 on political empowerment. Yemen ranked considerably low on educational attainment as well as economic participation and opportunity with scores of 0.737 and 0.345 in these sections respectively. Women in Yemen are allowed only partial access to financial services. Overall, Yemen ranked 144 out of the 144 countries with the lowest score of 0.516.


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