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World Economic Forum Index Ranks Countries By Gender Disparities

An index issued Tuesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF) “ranked 134 countries according to how much they had reduced gender disparities over the past year in the areas of economic participation, education, political empowerment and health,” the New York Times reports.

“Gender disparities were found to be widest in Pakistan, Chad and Yemen – unchanged from a year ago,” according to the newspaper (Clark, 10/12). Bloomberg adds that South Africa fell “six spots to 12th place, also because of the loss of women in government leadership jobs,” and Lesotho, which ranked eighth in the index, “was the only sub-Saharan country found to have no gap in education and health, and it has more girls than boys enrolled in primary and secondary schools” (Chandra, 10/12). Rediff.com writes that India is “among the lowest ranked countries at the 112th position,” because it lags in “economic participation, educational attainment and health” (10/12).

“Progress will be achieved when countries seek to reap returns on the investment in health and education of girls and women by finding ways to make marriage and motherhood compatible with the economic participation of women,” said Ricardo Hausmann, co-author of the report and director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University, BBC reports (10/12).  

Saadia Zahidi, head of WEF’s Women Leaders and Gender Parity program, said, “It’s very encouraging that more countries are becoming aware of why it’s important to reduce the gender gap and are starting to explore policies that may be needed,” Bloomberg reports (10/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.