The World Economic Forum’s latest report on the Global Gender Gap was released on 26th October 2016, featuring a host of new insights into the state of gender equality across the world. The report has been released annually since 2006 with the aim “to create global awareness of the challenges posed by gender gap and the opportunities created by reducing them.” Covering over 144 countries, the report utilises over a decade’s worth of data to paint a rich picture of the divides between men and women. The report focuses on four key areas deemed to be most important to the gender divide:
- Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio
- Educational attainment – access to basic and higher level education
- Economic participation and opportunity – equality of salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment
- Political empowerment – representation in decision-making institutions
By assessing these four areas, the index measures gender equality and a helps to determine a country’s progress over time. Ultimately, the report aims to develop a clear picture of how countries are dividing resources and opportunities between men and women, regardless of the relative levels of these resources.
The main observations from the 2016 report on the 4 key areas can be summarised as follows:
- Educational attainment – the gender gap in this area has closed to 95%, meaning an increase of nearly 1% since 2015 and its highest recorded value. The World Economic Forum predicts that that educational parity can be achieved within just 10 years.
- Health and survival – this area has also improved in 2016, with the gap closing to 96%. It has been impossible to predict when this gap might fully close.
- Economic participation – the economic gap has widened last year and now only 59% of the gap is closed. The Forum forecasts that equality in this area will not be achieved until 2196.
- Political empowerment – this area is showing a slow but steady improvement. Although the cap is only 23% closed at the moment, it has narrowed by 9% in the last decade. It is predicted that this will be fully closed before the end of the century.
The report also reveals a number of other important trends. Women around the world are currently earning around half of what men earn despite the fact they are working longer hours. Women’s participation in the labour force is also currently only at 54% (against 81% for men); this is linked to the recognition that only 4 countries are recorded as having an equal number of male and female legislators, senior officials and managers. Nevertheless, the gaps in gender equality are improving slowly but surely each year. With current trends, the Forum predicts that the overall global gender gap can be closed in 83 years across the 107 countries covered since its inception.
And for Singapore? In their 2016 report Singapore ranks at #55 in the global ranking and #5 in the East Asia and the Pacific table. The weakest areas stand out as educational attainment, health & survival and political empowerment, with Singapore not ranking higher than 95 globally in each of these areas. Yet in terms of economic participation and opportunity, Singapore stands strongly at #17. Singapore boasts some of the highest levels of wage equality measured by the Forum. However, the results point to a general separation of women in both the educational and political spheres, and a remarkably low female-to-male birth ratio (0.935) compared to global averages. Meanwhile, the wider Asia region has shown the fastest global rate of change and gap reduction, with a closing of the gender gap in the region projected within 46 years.
For more information and insight, The Global Gender Gap Report can be accessed here: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2016/
 The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 pg. 3 – http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GGGR16/WEF_Global_Gender_Gap_Report_2016.pdf