Since 2006, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has published an annual Global Gender Gap Report. In these reports, WEF "quantifies the magnitude of gender disparities and tracks their progress over time, with a specific focus on the relative gaps between women and men across four key areas: health, education, economy and politics."
The latest annual report, released in November 2016, covers 144 countries and marks the 11th installment. As the WEF notes, "more than a decade of data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realizing the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes."
We analyzed this data and built an interactive story to explore it.
The overall gender parity score varies widely across the globe. In the 2016 report, the U.S. ranks 45th with an overall score of 72%. A score of 100% (right side of the chart) denotes true gender equality but no nation in the report has managed to close the gap completely.
The top 5 ranked countries in 2016 were:
and the bottom 5 were:
The median ranked country, Bangladesh, rose from 90th place in 2006 to 72nd place in 2016.
Broken down by world region, the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa have the greatest spread in the gender index.
Western European and European Union nations tend to cluster higher up in the chart...
...while countries in the Americas tend to fall in the middle.
The overall scores are derived from metrics in four key areas: health, education, economy and politics. The median health and education gender gaps are considerably smaller (i.e. higher gender parity score) than in economy and politics.
Of the four areas examined, political empowerment, which tracks female members of parliament, females at the ministerial level, and heads of state, fares the worst with a median gender gap of 16.5% women to men worldwide.
Top 3 countries with most women in parliament are:
Both Rwanda and Bolivia have legislation to drive female participation. Bolivia requires equal number of male and female candidates. In Rwanda 30% of seats are reserved for women but even the non-reserved seats are almost split in half between men and women (source: WEF).
Most countries perform well in the Health index, which tracks sex ratio at birth and life expectancy ratio. 38 countries have closed the gap completely. In China and India, sex-selective abortions have contributed to a low health rating but as the influence of China's One Child Policy wanes, hopefully that gap will close further.
In 11 years measured by the report, almost all countries tracked have made progress towards gender parity but change has been slow; the median worldwide overall gender parity score has moved from 66.5% in 2006 to 69.5% in 2016—an increase of only 3.4% percentage points. The uptick has been driven mostly by political (+5.8%) and education (+5.5%) scores, but these indicators—in particular political representation—are also the two lowest and have the most room for improvement.
The Top 5 movers since 2006 were:
Here we highlight the United States in 2006, showing how both score and rank have changed over the years. Notice how the U.S.'s score increased (moved to the right) during the late 2000s and early teens but slipped back (moved to the left) in the past two years, undoing nearly half the progress made.
The U.S. rises and falls in ranking for a number of reasons. First and foremost, as other middle- and highly-ranked nations enter the report, its position drops. Secondly, while the report's methodology has remained constant over its 10 years, the WEF acknowledges "the United States (45) loses 17 places since last year, primarily due to a more transparent measure for the estimated earned income."
Most nations in the report have made progress over the last decade only to slip in past few years. The WEF blames the global slowdown on "chronic imbalances in salaries and labour force participation" especially at senior management levels and estimates that at the current pace it could take up to 170 years to see global workforce parity.
Check out how the countries compare by using the tools above and below.