Workplace gender gap fuels Switzerland's plunge in global index


China has fallen in a global ranking for gender equality for a ninth year in a row, coming in at 100 among 144 countries despite decades of economic advances, according to an worldwide study.

"The most challenging gender gaps remain in the economic and health spheres", WEF's Global Gender Gap report said.

The annual report ranks 144 countries on its Global Gender Gap Index to see how they compare in terms of gender equality on four key dimensions: economic participation and opportunities, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

New Zealand has closed 79 percent of its overall gender pay gap, putting it at ninth place.

India's decline in position is due to gender gaps in political empowerment, healthy life expectancy and literacy.

China slipped a notch to 100th and "remains the world's lowest-ranked country with regard to the gender gap in its sex ratio", it said.

The Philippines fell to 10th place from 7th place in 2016, as the WEF's estimate for the world to close the gender gap widened to 100 years, from 83 years in 2016, said Till Leopold, WEF project lead for education gender and work.

At the top of the Global Gender Gap Index is Iceland.

With organisations vying for gender parity, many countries have made considerable progress, understanding that talent is a critical factor for growth, according to a report.

"One big challenge for the country is translating positive progress into economic gains for women: over the past year, perceived wage equality for similar work has fallen 28 places to 114th". The gap between men and women again began to increase.

The country closest to fully bridging the gender gap is Iceland, followed by Norway and Finland. "In most economies around the world there is a reverse gender gap with more women than men occupying these professional and technical positions". "However out of the 17 countries covered by the index in the MENA region this year, 11 countries have improved their overall score compared to last year". It now ranks behind countries including the United Kingdom (15th), Australia (35th) and Bangladesh (47th). The health gender gap is larger than it stood in 2006.

Statistics highlighted by the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper show that last year, 43.6% girls in Switzerland obtained a secondary school leaving certificate from an apprenticeship or academic high school compared with 33.1% of boys - a discrepancy that has strengthened over the past 15 years.

About 23 per cent of the political gap has been closed, which is unchanged since past year against a long-term trend of slow but steady improvement. "Gender equality is both a moral and economic imperative", said Saadia Zahidi, head of education, gender and work at WEF.