Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The 2016 Global Gender Gap and the Impact of Global Political Patterns on Women's Rights

1.  The World Economic Forum publishes an annual report on the global gender gap.  Their measures are based on an index which can be criticized*, but which still is an acceptable rough indicator of how women are faring in different parts of the world.

The top ten countries in the 2016 report (those countries where women and men have closest to the same rights and life experiences) are, in order of decreasing rankings:  Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Rwanda, Ireland, the Philippines, Slovenia, New Zealand and Nicaragua.

The index treats countries in different income groups somewhat differently, and that explains the presence of Rwanda, the Philippines, Slovenia and Nicaragua in the top ten.  Women's rights are easier to negotiate when a country has lots of money and less competition for jobs and such, which makes the income group divisions meaningful.

The bottom ten countries in the 2016 report (those countries where women and men have very different rights and life experiences and where men's rights are higher) are, in order of increasing rankings (beginning with the lowest ranked country:  Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Iran, Mali, Morocco, Cote d'Ivoire, Lebanon.

The United States ranks 45th in the 2016 report.  My post about the 2015 report  notes that the United States last year ranked 28th in the overall index.  Why the drop?   The 2016 report (p. 29) answers:

The United States (45) sees a drop in its ranking due to a decrease on its Economic Participation and Opportunity score. This is partly due to a revised estimate of the size of the gender gap in estimated earned income; however, the country’s female labour force participation has also been stagnating for a number of years, including among legislators, senior officials and managers. More positively, the United States has reached gender parity in education, highlighting the large latent talent pool in the country’s adult female population.

2.  These two videos about women fighting for wider rights in Saudi Arabia and in Afghanistan are wonderful.  Sadly, I cannot tell if they are real.

3.  I have spent some time thinking how the recent global developments affect the fight for women's rights.  The rise of right-wing populism in the West and Russia and religious extremism in many Middle Eastern countries (as well as a mix of the two in Turkey) are not good news for women, because they all agree on women's proper place which pretty much is in the kitchen and in the bedroom, under male headship.  So there's yet another front for us to fight, sigh.

At the same time, the women's marches attracted at least 4.5 million marchers globally, so I think we are equipped for that fight, and we are going to ultimately win (might be a few centuries later).  So don't lose heart!  But don't lose the urgency, either.

* Somewhere I have a long post on the methodology of the WEF index, but I can't find it.  This 2009 post has a few observations on how the index is calculated.