East Asia and the Pacific
With an average remaining gender gap of just under 32%, the East Asia and the Pacific region scores in the middle of the range of the Global Gender Gap Index. With the Philippines and New Zealand, the region is home to two of the overall Index’s top ten performers, both having closed over 78% of their total gender gap—far ahead of the region’s next best-placed country—while the lower half of the region’s economies are yet to cross the threshold of having closed 70% of it or more. The region is also home to three of the five most-improved countries over the past decade on the Health and Survival gender gap, although out of the 16 countries in the region only four—Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand and the Philippines—have fully closed that gap. With a regional average of 94%, East Asia and the Pacific is the lowest-ranked region globally on this subindex. Only two countries in the region have currently fully closed the Education Attainment gender gap, the Philippines being one of the two. Half of the countries in the region have closed the gender gap for professional and technical workers.
Out of the 16 countries covered by the Index in the region this year, five countries have increased their overall score compared to last year, while 10 have a decreased score. One new country joined the Index this year.
The Philippines (7) and New Zealand (9) maintain their overall Index top ten rankings on the back of strong scores on closing the Political Empowerment gender gap and despite the Philippines’ small decline on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex. Lao PDR (43) becomes the third-ranked country in the region. This is due to Lao PDR’s progress in narrowing the gender gap in estimated earned income, tertiary enrolment and women parliamentarians, in addition to actually fully closing the gender gap in labour force participation—one of only five countries (and the only non-African one) to do so. Australia (46) is affected by the updated estimated earned income scale, highlighting the continued existence of a gender gap in income for Australia. The next-ranked country is Singapore (55), which, likewise, shows a wide gender gap in estimated earned income. However, this is balanced out by simultaneous progress in closing the gender gap for professional and technical workers and for secondary school enrolment. It is the country that has made the most progress in the region on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex over the past decade. Mongolia (58) experiences a small decrease in its overall score and ranking due to a widening in the gender gap on the Legislators, senior officials and managers indicator.
Vietnam (65) records a significant climb in ranking due to fully closing its tertiary education enrolment gender gap and an increase in women in parliament. By contrast, Thailand (71) slides in ranking due to a widening of its Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex gender gap and, in particular, a decrease in the number of female legislators, senior officials and managers. It also re-opens a gender gap in the literacy rate. Indonesia (88) balances a widening gender gap for female legislators, senior officials and managers against fully closing the one for professional and technical workers and increased wage equality to achieve a marginal increase in its overall score. China (99) records a small decrease in wage equality and newly available data reveals that it continues to exhibit a gender gap in secondary school enrolment. It remains the world’s lowest-ranked country with regard to the gender gap in its sex ratio at birth. The Index’s updated estimated earned income scale highlights the continued existence of an income gender gap in Brunei Darussalam (103), leading to a decrease in ranking. However, other data updates for the country record some progress on closing the Political Empowerment subindex gender gap for the first time. Malaysia (106) records progress on closing gender gaps in women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income, and it fully closes the secondary school enrolment gap this year, leading to a rank and score increase. Cambodia (112) experiences a reversal in last year’s progress on closing its Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex gender gap, with a decline in women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income.
The Index’s updated estimated earned income scale highlights the continued existence of an income gender gap in Japan (111) and Korea, Rep. (116). However, this is not the only factor affecting the two countries’ performances this year. Japan records a significant widening of the gender gap for professional and technical workers, adversely affecting its ranking despite further progress in reducing the gender gap in tertiary education enrolment and women’s representation among legislators, senior officials and managers, and in improving wage equality for similar work. Korea, Rep., meanwhile, records a large improvement on its gender gap in professional and technical workers, and across the Political Empowerment subindex, almost completely offsetting a decrease in women’s share of estimated earned income and worsening perceptions of wage equality for similar work by the country’s business community.
Timor-Leste (125) re-enters the Global Gender Gap Index for the first time since 2012 and scores at the bottom of the East Asia and the Pacific region. The country has closed the gender gap in primary and secondary education and performs comparatively well on its share of female members of parliament. However, a significant gender gap remains on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex and in its sex ratio at birth.