Gulf nations near bottom of world table on equality

But World Economic Forum research shows some improvements have been made.
Gulf nations near bottom of world table on equality
By Andy Sambidge
Thu 13 Nov 2008 07:57 AM

Gulf nations are languishing near the bottom of a new World Economic Forum list showing the gap between the influence of men and women in society, but improvements are being made in some countries.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2008 found that women in GCC countries were still some way from achieving the type of equality experienced in Norway, which topped the poll.

Kuwait was the best performer in the region but still only ranked 101st out of 130 countries.

Next came the UAE which was ranked 105th, the same position it held last year, and down from 101st in 2006 when the first assessment was published.

Oman (118), Qatar (119), Bahrain (121), Saudi Arabia (128) were all placed near the bottom of the table for the second year running.

The report found that while countries in the Middle East “continue to perform far below the global average”, such countries as Tunisia, Jordan, the UAE and Oman have shown improvements.

But in the past year the situation has worsened in Qatar, Syria, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Yemen was placed at the bottom of the 130 countries, although the report found the country had shown improvements over the previous year.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2008 measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.

The report said considerable gains have been made in the UAE since the country’s first elections in 2006, in which more women were appointed members.

While the UAE’s general ranking was low, the country ranked 46th in terms of women’s educational attainment, and 72nd in the global assessment of political empowerment.

Norway led the world in closing the gender gap between men and women, according to the report with Finland, Sweden and Iceland following.

Previously higher ranking countries such as Germany (11), United Kingdom (13) and Spain (17) slipped down the Index but stayed in the top 20, while Netherlands (9), Latvia (10), Sri Lanka (12) and France (15) made significant gains.

The United States (27) also made progress this year and closed gender gaps in estimated earned income and perceived income gaps for similar work.

The United States also made strides in political empowerment, driven by increased participation of women in political decision-making positions.

“Greater representation of women in senior leadership positions within governments and financial institutions is vital not only to find solutions to the current economic turmoil, but to stave off such crises in future,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

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