The World Economic Forum (WEF), an international non-profit foundation working independently from Switzerland, released its annual Global Gender Gap Report for 2013, claiming Pakistan to be worst country in terms of an equitable division of resources between men and women, after Yemen.
Pakistan was ranked 135 among 136 countries, in a continuing tradition of being awarded the lowest positions since 2006.
Neighbouring India was ranked 101. Among countries with Muslim majority, Bangladesh was ranked 75, Saudi Arabia 127, Iran 130, Turkey 120, Malaysia 102 and Indonesia 95 whereas Iraq and Afghanistan were not included in the report.
WEF states their Gender Gap Index is “a framework for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress.”
The 136 countries assessed by the report represent more than 93% of the world’s population, ranking them on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations.
“The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, educational and health-based criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time.”
WEF also emphasises that since the Index is concerned only with gender-based gaps, the actual levels of the available resources and opportunities in the countries does not matter.
“Thus the Index penalizes or rewards countries based on the size of the gap between male and female enrollment rates, but not for the overall levels of education in the country.”
Pakistan’s ranking in sub-indexes
The Report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas or sub-indexes:
1. Economic participation and opportunity (135):
In terms of salaries, participation and highly skilled employment, Pakistan received an overall rank of 135. Breaking this down further, the country was deemed most unequal in its employment of men and women for labour force and the relative incomes earned by the two groups.
In terms of wage equality between men and women for the same job, the country fared a little better with a rank of 113.
2. Educational attainment (129):
Women in Pakistan were ascertained as having better access to education once they moved from basic to higher studies.
While a comparison between the overall literacy rates of men and women put Pakistan at an unimpressive 131, the country fared better in equality between males and females in terms of enrolment in tertiary education, getting the 95th position. Unequality was higher in primary and secondary education though.
3. Health and survival (124):
While Pakistan was awarded the top position in terms of giving birth to an equal number of males and females, WEF again found the country’s women to be among the worst ones in terms of having a healthy life expectancy similar to men in the country.
4. Political empowerment (64)
Pakistan did have a lot to be proud of in the area of conferring politically empowering positions on women.
Women in the country enjoy a representation in decision-making structures of the country which is better than 72 other countries in the report though trailing behind 63 others.
There may be more women in ministerial positions in other countries than Pakistan (which ranks 97), but there are more women in the parliament here than many other nations (rank 69).
Lastly, thanks to Benazir Bhutto’s two terms (or five years) in office as Prime Minister, Pakistan has spent more time with a female head of state in the last 50 years than 20 other countries (rank 21).
Countries with best gender-parity stats:
According to the report, the following countries have been most successful in offering equal opportunities for men and women.
7. New Zealand