International Federation of Training and Development Organisations

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Global Gender Gap Report 2014

Sat, Oct 18th, 2014

The recently published Global Gender Gap Report 2014, available at, from the World Economic Forum paints a mixed picture of progress towards gender equality. The ninth edition of the report finds that, among the 142 countries measured, the gender gap is narrowest in terms of health and survival. However, the gender gap for economic participation and opportunity now stands at 60% worldwide, having closed by 4% from 56% in 2006 when the Forum first started measuring it. Based on this trajectory, with all else remaining equal, it will take 81 years for the world to close this gap completely.

With no one country having closed its overall gender gap, Nordic nations remain the most gender-equal societies in the world. Last year’s leading four nations – Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4) – are joined by Denmark, which climbs from eighth place to fifth. Elsewhere in the top 10 there is considerable movement, with Nicaragua climbing four places to sixth, Rwanda entering the index for the first time at seventh, Ireland falling to eighth, the Philippines declining four places to ninth and Belgium climbing one place to tenth.

After health and survival, the educational attainment gap is the next narrowest, standing at 94% globally. Here, 25 countries have closed the gap entirely. While the gender gap for economic participation and opportunity lags stubbornly behind, the gap for political empowerment, the fourth pillar measured, remains wider still, standing at just 21%, although this area has seen the most improvement since 2006.

Reflecting on trends over the past ten years the report notes that the direction of change within countries from 2006 to the present day has been largely positive, but not universally so. Of the 111 countries that have been continuously covered in the report over the last nine years, 105 have narrowed their gender gaps, but another six have seen prospects for women deteriorate. These six countries are spread across regions: in Asia, it is Sri Lanka; in Africa, Mali; in Europe, Croatia and Macedonia; and in the Middle East, Jordan and Tunisia. In the Americas, no country has widening gender gaps.

Regional Analysis:  Countries from Europe and Central Asia occupy 12 of the top 20 positions in the index, one less than last year. In Asia and the Pacific, the Philippines remains the region’s highest-ranked country, followed by New Zealand (13) and Australia (24). These nations are regional outliers, however, as only one other nation, Mongolia (42), places in the top 50. At sixth, Nicaragua reinforces it position as Latin America and the Caribbean’s gender parity leader, due to strong performance in health, education and political gaps. It is one of 10 countries from the region that make the top 50 this year. In the Middle East and North Africa, Kuwait, at 113th, is the highest-placed country in the region, after making significant gains in overall income, including for women. The region is also home to the lowest-ranked country in the index, Yemen, which, at 142nd, has remained at the bottom of the index since 2006. But, it has significantly improved relative to its own past scores. Sub-Saharan Africa, meanwhile, boasts three countries in the top 20 of the index. The highest placed, Rwanda, scores highly in terms of economic and political participation and is the highest-ranked developing country in the index

The case for gender equality: The report argues that achieving gender equality is a “necessity for economic reasons”. The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is its human talent—the skills and productivity of its workforce. Similarly, an organization’s performance is determined by the human capital that it possesses and its ability to use this resource efficiently. Ensuring the healthy development and appropriate use of half of the world’s available talent pool thus has a vast bearing on how competitive a country may become or how efficient a company may be. The Figure below plots the Human Development Index 2013 relative to the Global Gender Gap Index 2014. The graph shows a correlation between the two indices.



Healthy and educated women are likely to have healthier and more educated children, creating a virtuous cycle for any community or country. When the number of women involved in political decision-making reaches a critical mass, their decisions – which take into account the needs of a wider segment of society – lead to more inclusive results. Companies that recruit and retain women, and ensure that they attain leadership positions, outperform those that do not.


The Global Gender Gap Index ranks 142 countries on the gap between women and men on health, education, economic and political indicators. It aims to understand whether countries are distributing their resources and opportunities equitably between women and men, irrespective of their overall income levels. Index scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men, and allows countries to compare their current performance relative to their past performance.

The full report contains a wealth of regional and country specific data. It can be downloaded here: