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WEF report: Bangladesh topmost in gender parity among South Asian countries

  • Published at 01:49 pm December 17th, 2019
gender equality
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Bangladesh is also the only South Asian country in the list of global top 100 countries

Bangladesh has been ranked at the top among all South Asian countries for its achievements towards gender parity, a latest report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) states.

Being the only one in the top 100 among its South Asian neighbours, Bangladesh attained the 50th position out of 153 countries worldwide, according to the WEF report Global Gender Gap Report 2020 published on Tuesday.

The report said: "Reflecting the magnitude of the challenge when it comes to gender parity, Bangladesh (overall score of 72.6%) is the only one of the seven South Asian countries studied to feature in the top 100 of the Global Gender Gap Index.

"India ranks 112th (66.8%) and Pakistan (56.4%) is antepenultimate, only ahead of Iraq and Yemen."

Lauding Bangladesh's accomplishment in closing 72.6% of the overall gender gap, the report said this country is among the 10 countries where female head of states had a longer tenure for the past 50 years, adding that: "Bangladesh is the only country in the world where that number exceeds the number of years with a male head of state (25.6 compared with 24.4)."

However, the report also mentioned that there are only 8% of women in the cabinet and only 20% in the Bangladeshi parliament.

"But its presence in the top 50 and regional leadership should not hide the fact that there is considerable room to bolster basic rights of women and improve their economic and political prospects," the report added.

Two notches behind Bangladesh, on the 53rd position is the United States with a score of 72.4, according to the WEF report. It noted: "There has never been a woman president to date [in the United States]." 

Table: The Global Gender Gap Index rankings in South Asian region, 2020

Country

Rank

Score

 

Regional

Global

 

Bangladesh

1

50

0.726

Nepal

2

101

0.680

Sri Lanka

3

102

0.680

India

4

112

0.668

Maldives

5

123

0.646

Bhutan

6

131

0.635

Pakistan

7

151

0.564

Gender workplace equality 257 years away

According to the report, women may have to wait more than two centuries for equality at work, showing gender inequality growing in workplaces worldwide despite increasing demands for equal treatment, reports AFP.

While women appear to be gradually closing the gender gap in areas such as politics, health and education, workplace inequality is not expected to be erased until the year 2276, the report said.

The organization, which gathers the global elite in the plush Swiss ski resort of Davos each year, said that the worldwide gender gap in the workplace had widened further since last year, when parity appeared to be only 202 years off.

WEF forecasted that it will take 99.5 years for women to achieve parity on average, down from the 108 years forecast in last year's report.

But while some sectors have shown improvements, others lag far behind. General parity "will take more than a lifetime to achieve," WEF acknowledged in a statement.

40% wage gap

Politics meanwhile is the domain where the least progress has been made to date, but it showed the biggest improvement in the past year.

Women in 2019 held 25.2% of parliamentary lower-house seats and 22.1% of ministerial positions, compared to 24.1% and 19% in 2018.

But when it comes to the workplace, the picture is less rosy.

The report, which looked at a variety of factors including opportunity and pay, said it would take 257 years before there was equality in the workplace.

It highlighted positive developments, like a general increase in the share of women among skilled workers and senior officials.

On average, only 55% of adult women are in the labour market today, compared to 78% for men, while women globally on average still make 40% less than men for similar work in similar positions.

The wage gap has been steadily shrinking in OECD countries over the past decade, but it has at the same time expanded in emerging and developing economies, the WEF report showed.

Global disparities

Progress across the categories varies greatly in different countries and regions.

The report pointed out that while Western European countries could close their overall gender gap in 54.4 years, countries in the Middle East and North Africa will take nearly 140 years to do so.

Overall, the Nordic countries once again dominated the top of the table: men and women were most equal in Iceland, followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and finally Yemen showed the biggest overall gender gaps of the countries surveyed.

Among the world's 20 leading economies, Germany fared the best, taking 10th place, followed by France at 15th, South Africa at 17th, Canada at 19th and Britain at 21st.

The United States continued its decline, slipping two places to 53rd, with the report pointing out that "American women still struggle to enter the very top business positions", and are also "under-represented in political leadership roles."

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