The World Economic Forum has published its 2007 rankings for 128 countries on the size of their gender gaps and NZ is in 5th place, as in the 5th smallest gender gap. That’s pretty good. Note however this is not a measure of how well off women are generally in each country – it is a measure of how they do compared to men.
So while the US may be in 31st place, you’d probably rather be a woman there than in Lesotho which is 26th.
NZ was 7th in 2006, so a slight improvement. The only countries ahead of us are Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. We scored 76.5% and the top score was 81.5%
They provide breakdowns by income groups. The lowest ranking for a high income country is Saudia Arabia in 124th at 56.5%. Japan is low also in 91st place at 64.5%
The top middle income country is Latvia in 13th at 73.3% and bottom is Turkey at 57.7%.
For lower middle incomes, Philippines is top at 6th and 76.3% and bottom is Morocco in 122nd at 56.8%.
Finally the top low income country is Tanzania in 34th place scoring 69.7%. Bottom is Yemen in 128th with 45.1%.
Oh yes Borat’s Kazahstan actually does quite well at 32nd place and 69.8%.
The largest downwards movement was Nicaragua who dropped 20 places and is now 90th.
The methodology used is interesting. The overall score is an average of four group scores – for Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival Subindex and Political Empowerment.
NZ was 8th for economic participation, 19th for educational attainment, 67th for health and 9th for political empowerment. The top scores in each category by the way was Mozambique for economic participation, shared for educational attainment, shared for health and Sweden for political empowerment.
Looking further at the raw data, one soon realises that the educational and health scores have almost no effect because all the countries are so close together. The top
score in education is 100% and the median score is 98.9%. Going to health the top score is 98.0% and the median is 97.6%.
So in reality these rankings (unless you rank very very low) tell us little on health and education because the difference between top and median is slight.
In economic participation the top score is 79.7% and the median is 63.9%. So a reasonable range.
For political empowerment, the top score is 52.5% and median is 10.5%.
So in reality this gender gap ranking is primarily a ranking of political empowerment. We see this because four countries which top the political empowerment section also top the overall survey.
So what makes up the scores in the four groupings?
The economic participation group measures labour force participation, wage equality, income, and no of professionals and managers – all comparing female to male. This group has some effect on the overall ranking.
Education covers literacy rate, primary enrolments, secondary enrolments and tertiary enrolments. As I said, almost no difference between the top half.
Health covers life expectancy and sex ratio at birth. Again no real difference in the top half.
Political empowerment covers the ratio of female legislators, the ratio of female Ministers and the ratio of female to make heads of states for the last 50 years. I wonder if they counted the Queen or the GGs for us?
So mostly the rankings reflect how many female MPs and Ministers a country has. Now one of the good things of MMP has been the increase towards a more representative House.
So it’s a good result to be 5th, but it doesn’t mean women in NZ are massively different off to say women in the UK which is 11th.
Probably the best result is being 8th for economic participation which reflects the high labour participation arte for women.