New Zealand ranks among top ten nations on gender equality

A failure by the United Kingdom to improve its gender equality has seen it fall behind other nations over the past decade, according to a report released on Thursday.

In its latest annual global gender gap report, the forum assessed 144 countries based on differences between men and women in terms of economic participation in the workforce, education, health and political empowerment. Overall, 68 per cent of the global gender gap has been closed, a slight deterioration on 2016 and 2015, when the gap was 68.3 per cent and 68.1 per cent respectively.

India fell sharply from 87th place to 108th, a drop that was "largely attributable to a widening of its gender gaps in political empowerment as well as in healthy life expectancy and basic literacy", the report said. "The UAE is now very close to closing its gender gap in educational attainment", the WEF said.

The Index measures equality between men and women in 144 countries worldwide in four key sectors: health, education and political and economic participation.

Surprisingly, it said, the education industry in India, which initially had the third highest percentage of women hired showed slow growth over the years and dropped in the rank to become the sixth highest.

In general, companies around the world fail to offer a level playing field for women, the Gender Gap Index showed. "In most economies around the world there is a reverse gender gap with more women than men occupying these professional and technical positions".

On top of that, women were spending about 44.6 per cent of their non-work hours on unpaid work such as looking after their families while the figure for men was 18.9 per cent.

60 countries this year saw a decrease in their score, meaning equality worsened.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), at the current rate of progress, it will take 157 years to close the gap.

The World Economic Forum says in a new report that "equality is in retreat" for the first time since the group starting tracking the issue in 2006.

This year's report sees no new entrants to the top 10, which is dominated by smaller Western European countries, and particularly the Nordics with Iceland, Finland, and Norway occupying the top three positions. Only six countries have closed the gap in both of these pillars. They included the region's top economies, including China, Japan, India and South Korea. "Also, keeping in mind all the reforms happening at the moment, next year's report results seem to be even more promising". Four countries have crossed the 50-percent threshold, and 34 countries have closed less than 10 percent of the gap (five less than last year).

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