Will WEF Global Gender Gap Report Ever Rule the World?

India has slipped 28 places to rank 140th among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. The report is annually published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Four dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment. India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap to date. In South Asia, only Pakistan and Afghanistan ranked below India. Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world. Download PDF Another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years

May 4, 2021 - 12:36
Jun 15, 2021 - 20:51

The Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum. The 2020 report (published in 2019) covers 153 countries. The Global Gender Gap Index is an index designed to measure gender equality. The index is designed to "measure gender-based gaps in access to resources and opportunities in countries rather than the actual level of the available resources and opportunities in those countries." It is not necessarily true that highly developed countries should have higher scores. The methodology used to determine index scores is designed in such a way as to count situations in which men are disadvantaged relative to women as "equal".


The report's Gender Gap Index ranks countries according to the calculated gender gap between women and men in four key areas: health, education, economy, and politics to gauge the state of gender equality in a country. The report measures women's disadvantage compared to men and is not a measure of equality of the gender gap. Gender imbalances to the advantage of women do not affect the score. So, for example, the indicator "number of years of a female head of state (last 50 years) over male value" would score 1 if the number of years was 25, but would still score 1 if the number of years was 50. Due to this methodology, gender gaps that favor women over men are reported as equality and would not cause deficits of equality in other areas to become less visible in the score, except for life expectancy.

To put it more simply: women could be better off in all areas and still the index would deem that country perfectly equal. The three highest-ranking countries have closed over 84% of their gender gaps, while the lowest-ranking country has closed only a little over 50% of its gender gap.

It "assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities," the Report says. "By providing a comprehensible framework for assessing and comparing global gender gaps and by revealing those countries that are role models in dividing these resources equitably between women and men, the Report serves as a catalyst for greater awareness as well as greater exchange between policymakers."

The report examines four overall areas of inequality between men and women in 130 economies around the globe, over 93% of the world's population: Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher-level education Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio. In this case, parity is not assumed, there are assumed to be fewer female births than males (944 females for every 1,000 males), and men are assumed to die younger. Provided that women live at least six percent longer than men, parity is assumed. But if it is less than six percent it counts as a gender gap.

Thirteen out of the fourteen variables used to create the index are from publicly available "hard data" indicators from international organizations, such as the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organization.

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