Yemen aside, Pakistan worst country in gender parity: World Economic Forum

Published: October 25, 2013
Map from the 2013 Gender Gap Report.

Map from the 2013 Gender Gap Report.

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.

1. Iceland

2. Finland

3. Norway

4. Sweden

5. Philippines

6. Ireland

7. New Zealand

8. Denmark

9. Switzerland

10. Nicaragua

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Reader Comments (62)

  • John Locke
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:14PM

    I am surprised that the Philippines and Nicaragua are in the top 10, both countries are impoverished countries with high crime and human right violations. The rest of the list is not so startling, all others are Western countries.


  • Saad
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:25PM

    This has to be the most ridiculous survey ever. Pakistan scoring below Saudi Arabia where women aren’t even allowed to drive.


  • Fact is Fact
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:27PM

    I completely reject this weird report. Have they even been to pakistan to check the things themselves. they are just making these reports by word of mouth. Utter nonsense. These forums should be banned because it creates a negative image on people’s mind. Go to Saudi Arabia and check gender inequality there.. Women can not even drive a car .. they cannot go out of the house alone. Pakistan is much better..


  • Samar_Yz
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:33PM

    The ‘politically empowered’ are onl because of their feudal fathers who own the country.


  • RB Mian
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:37PM

    Rubbish Report
    1. Just look at the number of male and female students passing Metric, Intermediate, Bachelors and getting admission in MBBS. Picture will become crystal clear that females in this country have access to educational resources equal to boys.
    2. Most people take their daughters/sisters/mothers to best private doctor’s clinic so that they can avoid the mess/poor administration/ill environment of government hospitals.So mostly females get the best medical treatment.
    3. Every man in this country deposits his salary/income to the wife/mother. Then borrows from them according to needs especially in poor and lower middle class. So practically woman has upper hand over man in financial independence matters.


  • Leyla
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:42PM

    Though the situation is bad, but this report is to be taken with a load of salt. It is a highly subjective report with little objective scientific evidence backing it up.

    For example ranking Saudi Arabia and Mali above Pakistan and Iran is telling. In both Iran and Pakistan, women go to universities, work, drive and can live alone. In Saudi Arabia they can do none of these. In Chad which has a higher ranking than Pakistan, a woman is treated as a kind of an animal (Chad has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate).

    Such reports promote a subjective understanding of the world by a group of well fed individuals living in comfort of their “first world nations” and their already formed prejudices. They are absolutely useless when it comes to ground realities and policy making.


  • saad
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:43PM

    This is the worst way of publishing a news, only in one sector it is 135 rest are much better.

    but the headline of ET is making sure to put PAKISTAN in a negative picture.

    Extremely disappointed .. ET.


  • Toba Alu
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:43PM

    Must have something to do with the average temperature in the winter, or is it something else.


  • Nisar
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:51PM

    we did it


  • piddler
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:51PM

    Hells bells ! We are sub-zero even in gender bending. We treat our mullahs pretty damn good though . We are so bad at everything that the PEW survey is called PHEW survey. Get my drift!


  • Ashkenazi
    Oct 25, 2013 - 5:57PM

    Basically what they mean is make your women into tax subjects so IMF can dole out more loan which will be enjoyed by the elites but interest will paid by new tax serfs.


  • fred
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:07PM

    Did anyone else notice that this list is also the list of the hottest women on the planet ranked by nation?


  • suzo
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:09PM

    yes men are mistreated in pakistan!


  • Anticorruption
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:12PM

    strange. Pakistan is surely far better than Saudi Arabia. The ranking seems a bit questionable


  • hassan
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:13PM

    We don’t sell our womenRecommend

  • Jibran
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:16PM

    @John Locke:
    This is about gender parity not poverty.


  • Vlad Singh
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:18PM

    @John Locke: @Fact is Fact, @RB Mian, @saad

    Who told you Phillipines is impoverished country ? Here’s link to comparison of Pakistan and philippines economy .
    Philippines is matriarchal society, the condition of women is much better there than Pakistan.

    @Fact is Fact, @RB Mian, @saad
    Sometimes its wise to accept shortcomings and make efforts to improve them rather than closing eyes and live in grand denial mode like always .


  • Jibran
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:21PM

    Pakistan has come a long way since the demise of the dictatorial regime of Zia-ul-Haq. During that time, there were separate merit lists for males and females for entry into medical colleges. Working women/moms was considered taboo. Very few women in politics, services industry, and security agencies.


  • Naveen
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:22PM

    Map shown here is not of Gender Gap Index, but of the economic dimension of the Index. Here are the maps on all 4 dimensions – Economics, health, education and Political empowerment as well as the of overall Index ->

    Saudis saved by its decent performance in Education and Health. South Asians salvaged to an extent by good performance in political dimension.


  • Stranger
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:41PM

    Common shame on both sides of the jhelum river.


  • hker
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:43PM

    Thank You MALALA


  • Nadir
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:44PM

    ET is presenting negative picture of Pakistan. We shoudlnt change anything, media should just stop reporting it.


  • Jeez !
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:46PM

    @ Saad

    Why don’t you just buy E.T. so that you run it like a Nazi camp can print whatever pleases you,Shehenshah ?!
    Until then let the newspaper do it’s work,without being scolded by the likes of you.


  • Zen.One
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:46PM

    This pseudo report is skewed. Why only 136 countries are mentioned when the number is more than 200. Females outnumber males at a ratio of 60:40 in medical eduction in Pakistan. More female parliamentarian than any regional countries. You will see more females in big companies like Unilever, Glaxo, Major school systems. Also the women in the role of mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are much more respected in this society compared to the west.
    Here is a different survey with more countries and Pakistan fares better than India.


  • AR
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:55PM

    A country that has elected a female prime minister twice, has got a female head of central bank (State bank), has sent females to conquer mountain peaks, has female fighter pilots in airforce, has females as army and police officers, has females as member of parliament and minister has no objection to female driving, is behind a country (Saudi Arabia) that even does not allow women to drive a car. I am the last person on this planet to believe this report……


  • Ali S
    Oct 25, 2013 - 6:56PM

    Most Pakistanis would be happy to hear this. We’ve outdone our Saudi brothers.


  • firmsoil
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:02PM

    In some sense this list is inversely proportional to the list where being a mother is honorable.


  • lol
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:06PM

    central and north indian states have pulled us down….. say thank you to haryana,uttar pradesh,madhya pradesh,bihar ,rajasthan and 2-3 more states….. these states have pulled india’s ranking for sure…. the health and education status of females is dismal…… high maternal mortality….. crimes against women especially UP,haryana……lower economic participation…….. if u exclude these states….we would be more or less at china’s level…..western india…..north east india.south india if taken would give india a ranking of around 50 or so………i hope these states work and improve status of women…….. though i am happy that india is ranked 9 th in political empowerment….


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:11PM

    It reflects the leadership for the last so many decades, they have failed the populace, they looked after themselves and those who are well to do. Two tier education system was encouraged, one for the rich class and other for the masses. Just look at that one teen age girl Malala who stood up and spoke for education and there was so much criticism of her in Pakistan even after being shot for her standing up. It is the mind set of most of the Pakistanis and to some extent laws of the country which discourage or even make the female population 2nd class citizens of Pakistan. We are living in the 21st Century but inheritance laws for the siblings are based on 15 hundred old Islamic laws which perpetuate the inequality. Men will never change these outdated laws because they are the most beneficiary of this inequality. It is shameful that half of the population is being relegated to be 2nd class citizens and the current rampage of the religious zealots exasperate the situation even more.


  • Rex Minor
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:27PM

    This report is not meant for general public but for the investors! What a sham of a report by the WORLD ECONOMIC FDORUM; coming from the country which lives of the illegal money deposits of the criminals. The number 1 criterion being used for the study “Economic participation and opportunities” so that to advise their clients investors that Pakistani women have no means to buy luxary goods. Doesn’t the same apply for men as well?

    Rex Minor


  • Mujtaba
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:30PM

    Angry delusional denials by Pakistani Trolls in full swing.


  • Siddharth
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:40PM

    Well we(Indians) could have done much better….but we need to admit we have got problems in North and Central India….Western India and South India are way ahead from rest of the country….but really what’s positive is, that we are accepting the problem, and with a youth population of around 65% and determination showed by us in last 5 years or so(protests, rallies etc.). Adding to it the effects of mass media and Internet increasing day by day, we can be assured to improve our ranking in coming years. #YOUNGINDIA #GOYOUTH #PEACE.


  • Neutral Observer
    Oct 25, 2013 - 7:53PM

    Interesting. Most red countries on the map are situated in the Arab and Muslim world or with a Hindu background (India, Nepal, Surinam), with some notable exceptions in Latin America, Africa and Asia (Japan). Could there be a correlation between Islamic culture/Hinduism and gender disparity?


  • Appauled
    Oct 25, 2013 - 8:15PM

    When what the concept of “RESPECT” in the treatment of women is EXACTLY the opposite of how women should be treated.. I am surprised we are not at the BOTTOM of the LIST!!


    Oct 25, 2013 - 8:16PM

    why should the white man do all the ranking.. it is time some asian foundation start a real ranking system…………….every ranking system perpetuate the myth of the white mans superiority. when the indian subcontinent were highly civilized the white man great grandads were jumping from tree to tree………


  • Cane
    Oct 25, 2013 - 9:01PM

    Its pretty rich coming from the Swiss where women couldn’t vote in some cantons till the early 70s. As one Swedish friend put it, on a scale of gender equality with Sweden on one end, and the Taliban on the other, the Swiss would be much closer to the Taliban.


  • Wajahat
    Oct 25, 2013 - 9:21PM

    Instead of bashing everything and everyone apart from ourselves, I think it is a good idea to have a look at where we stand. We have failed women, minorities and various other groups.

    Please have a look at the link below, it should answer many questions which are posed here. For instance how is Saudi Arabia ranked higher than us etc.

    There are positives as well, for example we are in the same bucket as US in terms of political empowerment.



  • Naveen
    Oct 25, 2013 - 9:24PM

    Nice play with the number. What difference does it make whether Pak’s rank is 135 or 123 and India’s rank is 101 or in 130s? Both will still fall in the league of World’s least gender equal societies. A decimal point here and there falls within the margin of error of data. That’s why they club countries in broad categories of least unequal, moderately unequal, most unequal etc.

    BTW That survey did not include Political empowerment – India has some 33% reservation for women in Village Panchayats (on ground, out of 28.18 Lakh elected representatives in Panchayats, some 36% are women). So, if they include that part, the ranking goes up, otherwise it falls. Pointless neverteheless unless health, education and income parameters improve.


  • gp65
    Oct 25, 2013 - 10:12PM


    @Naveen: Political empowerment is included and India came out as number 9 on that score. It includes how many years has a female been hea dof government in last 50 years, what percentage of national legislature is women and how many ministers are women. India scored well on the first point and not too well on the other two. The metric you point out i.e. % of elected women in local government is not part of their framework. Agree with the overall notion that baring Sri Lanka, status of women’s empowerment in South Asia is not something to be proud of.

    @KUMAR: One may disagree with the criteria selected and may want to modify them. But certainly we cannot claim in good conscience that gender empowerment is high in India. The female infanticide, literacy gap between men and women etc. are issue that are eal. Fortunately with regards to literacy, the gap is rapidly reducing but some of the social issues certainly need to be addressed. No point acting like an ostritch.

    @Fact is Fact: ,@Saad: @Zen.One

    This is not based on word of mouth. It is based on metrics in the areas of political empowerment, health, education and employment. There too it is not absolute numbers but gaps between men and women that are considered. Pakistan fared well on the political metric and poorly on the other 3. In fact in area of political empowerment it had similar rank to US.Recommend

  • Indigenous
    Oct 25, 2013 - 10:16PM

    @Naveen: I urge you to read the actual report. You will find that India has steadily improved her position over the past 10 to 15 years. (Since the number of countries has changed in the interim, kindly re-compute our position from the bottom)


  • male chauvinist
    Oct 25, 2013 - 10:17PM

    I’ll definitely go to Pakistan to get married! I can never marry a scandinavian girl who would tell me ‘ Honey,its your turn to do the dishes!’


  • lol
    Oct 25, 2013 - 10:24PM

    denial of pakistanis here is amusing ……pakistanis have got the right place at the bottom…. with female literacy of not more than 50%, maternal mortality of more than 250 and high levels of torture against women like honour killings,acid attacks, rapes and stoning them to death. ..pak is bound to be at bottom….. u take the example of saudis getting better ranked….saudis have shown a lot of improvement in education and health sector… progress in politics and economics might also take place…. in pakistan the gap is huge…… male literacy is more than 65% whereas female literacy is not even close to 50%…. there are huge girl students out of school…………….those saying that girls are there in higher education and do well forget to get in their mullah minds that that is a very very small proportion……


  • Indigenous
    Oct 25, 2013 - 10:31PM

    For the sake of India, let all of us all be united and try and reach the top 10 among overall scores. As it is we are ranked number 9 in political empowerment, let us try and get better scores on all other parameters. This is one metric all Indians should work towards.


  • Naveen
    Oct 25, 2013 - 11:47PM

    I was talking about UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index that the pointed out. We are doing pretty bad there. It had a women empowerment dimension which perhaps included the political parameter in the form of % of women in parliament. So indeed I need to be corrected on that. However, still I believe that the Panchayat level representation is more relevant. Head of State, Parliamentarians and Ministers are too elitist and too few to have any real impact on women empowerment compared to having close to 1 million elected women representatives right at the Village level.

    With a growing economy, largely stable polity and a liberal secular democratic Constitution; India is expected to improve its position compared to some of the conflict-ridden or autocratic countries but the pace is excruciatingly slow when u compare that to East Asia or Latin America (the countries that India ought to see see as its real competitor rather than Sub-Saharan Africa). Something is not ticking in India’s case. Perhaps it is the lack of the of revolutionary zeal for socio-economic development amongst Indian political elites when compared to their peers in Latin America or East Asia.


  • Gup Shup
    Oct 25, 2013 - 11:49PM

    @ Firmsoil (well said)
    Regardless of what the IMF, WEF or any of the other puppet reports say.
    Here is an answer


  • gp65
    Oct 26, 2013 - 12:19AM

    @Naveen: I agree women’s representation in local self government is importantant. Given that most countries are not federal and do not have local self government, perhaps this metric has not been incorporated.

    I think that one area where progress is not being adeuqately captured is girls enrollment in school where it is over 100% in primary and around 85% at secondary level. Reason is that the metric used is gap in total literacy which includes all the older illiterate women. There have also been very significant investments in reducing maternal mortality with huge increase in % of births attended by skilled attendants and % in hospitals. While we can see significant acceleration in rate of infant mortality rate in last 7 years, we do not see that with regards to maternal mortality rate mainly because the last time it was measured is 2007-09, hence most of the recent improvement in this area is not reflected in the netrics which are outdated.

    I agree with the broader point however that there is significant scope to improve the situation -with the main area being son preference which results in female foeticide which is a huge blot.Recommend

  • Zen.One
    Oct 26, 2013 - 12:21AM

    Male literacy rate is 79% and for female it is 69.66%. Still a long way to go to match Sri Lanka or China in literacy rates.


  • Zen.One
    Oct 26, 2013 - 12:46AM

    @Vlad Singh:
    Lot of common denominators between Pakistan and Philippines.The GDP is almost same at 437billion USD in 2007. Though per capita GDP is higher for Philippines. Interesting link.


  • np
    Oct 26, 2013 - 12:51AM

    @Naveen: “With a growing economy, largely stable polity and a liberal secular democratic Constitution; India is expected to improve its position compared to some of the conflict-ridden or autocratic countries but the pace is excruciatingly slow when u compare that to East Asia or Latin America “

    India actually was marginally behind Malaysia, Cambodia and Japan in 2012 and is now marginally ahead. These are not conflict ridden autocratic countries and all 3 are in East Asia.


  • np
    Oct 26, 2013 - 1:27AM

    @Naveen: India’s educational indicators are outdated. It states that women’s literacy rate is 51% vs. men’s is 75% (avergae being 63%. Granted the definition used by UN (literacy of people 15 and over) is different from Indian census defiition (people 7 or over) but we are referring to the gap. The gap used by this index is 24% which was indeed the literacy gap in 2001 census. In the last decade the literacy gap in India has decreased from 24% to 16%. It has also used an outdated value for enrollment in secondary education.Recommend

  • Saad
    Oct 26, 2013 - 3:34AM

    Rubbish Report. Pakistan scoring worse than Saudi Arabia. I have lived in both countries, and i can easily say that women in Pakistan are in much better shape.


  • Vlad Singh
    Oct 26, 2013 - 1:44PM

    @Pakistani: India , quite interesting lol . Why you people have so much fixation about India ? Give me some figures about Russia as I’m half Russian too ) . I accept as half Indian that India have much to work on but its working out everything and not hiding behind by citing figures from other countries.


  • Rex Minor
    Oct 26, 2013 - 4:02PM

    Once again this report was not meant for the brains of Indian and Pakistani bloggers! Education and education alone is the key factor and pre-requisite for men and women to improve their performance in other areas. Pakistan must make high school education compulsary for both genders.

    Rex Minor


  • anwar kamal
    Oct 26, 2013 - 7:16PM

    Pakistan going down in all respects.


  • Milind
    Oct 26, 2013 - 7:36PM

    @.Fact is Fact

    The report highlights countries with “equitable division of resources between men and women”.

    Women in Saudi Arabia may not have the right to drive or education, but would definitely be entitled to resources since these are available in plenty there. Compare this to Pakistan where basic resource are out of reach for most of the folks.
    Additional factors like less crime in KSA, the guy paying dowry to the girl would have resulted in KSA moving a few notches up.


  • Saad
    Oct 26, 2013 - 10:28PM

    @RB Mian:
    This is so true. My father always used to hand over his salary to my mother. Now since he passed away, My brothers do the same. so basically my mother is the finance manager of our home


  • el chor
    Oct 27, 2013 - 4:50AM

    @Fact is Fact:
    KSA is more pious.


  • rasgullah
    Oct 27, 2013 - 4:32PM

    As expected, no Islamic countries in the top 10.


  • anony
    Oct 29, 2013 - 2:50PM

    @Leyla: Actually, being in Saudi Arabia I should probably enlighten you to the fact that women over here CAN go out alone, DO go to universities AND work. I am one of them. And that Saudi Arabia has the LARGEST WOMEN’S-ONLY university IN THE WORLD. (At 8,000,000 square meters). Just because of ONE thing (not driving), people draw so many incorrect conclusions. And by the way not driving is not the end of the world. People who’re well-off enough in Pakistan don’t drive either, even if they can. They have drivers. The driver business here in Saudia is extremely cheap. So women in Saudi who’re NOT well off are living with the luxury of drivers that only well-off women in Pakistan can afford.

    The reason this report is bogus is because it is viewing all countries, regardless of their cultures, with its own self-assumed-superior lens of what gender equality even means. In some places, true gender equality is where women and men’s differences are recognized and respected and their functions in society normalized according to these differences. This is actually superior to discarding the inherent uniqueness of each gender and slapping the same responsibilities on both, which happens to be exceedingly unfair to women, by the way.


  • wajid
    Oct 31, 2013 - 7:11PM

    @male chauvinist:

    Buy a dishwasher machine !


  • umer
    Dec 1, 2013 - 2:38PM

    can you define what is women Rights. you people who only hear the voice of Euro. how you can defined women rights


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