Middle East and North Africa
For the first time, the Middle East and North Africa region has closed more than 60% of the overall gender gap. However, the region continues to rank last globally on the overall Index, behind South Asia. On Educational Attainment, it ranks ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and on Health and Survival it surpasses East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Still, no country from the region has fully closed its gender gap on either subindex, although Turkey—on Health and Survival—and the United Arab Emirates—on Educational Attainment—come close. In addition to Israel, with a remaining overall gender gap of 28%, the region’s best-performing countries this year are Qatar, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, each having closed approximately 64% of their gender gap. The lower end of the regional table is made up of Syria and Yemen, having closed 57% and 52% of their gender gap, respectively. The Index’s revised estimated earned income scale reveals that in the region’s high-income countries, as elsewhere, additional efforts will still be required to fully close the gender gap in income. In addition, the Middle East and North Africa continues to lag on the Political Empowerment subindex, with only 9% of the gender gap closed and four out of the world’s five lowest-ranking countries on this subindex belonging to this region.
Out of the 18 countries covered by the Index in the region this year, 10 countries have improved their overall score compared to last year, while eight have regressed.
Israel (49) remains the top performer in the region, recording improvements on perceptions of wage equality, female labour force participation and in the share of women in parliament. It is followed by Qatar (119), which records a narrowing in its labour participation gender gap this year. Algeria (120) climbs several ranks and sees progress on wage equality, estimated earned income, and labour force participation. It also fully closes its secondary education gender gap. The United Arab Emirates (124) sees improvement on women parliamentarians and wage equality, and comes very close to fully closing its gender gap on the Educational Attainment subindex. However, the Index’s updated estimated earned income scale highlights the continued existence of an income gender gap in the country. The next-ranked country is Tunisia (126), which scores above the regional average across all subindexes but sees a slight widening in the gender gap in literacy this year. It has shown the region’s strongest improvement on the Health and Survival subindex over the past decade. Kuwait (128) sees solid progress on women’s labour force participation. However, the Index’s updated estimated earned income scale reveals the full extent of the remaining income gender gap in the country, which is further accentuated by declining perceptions of wage equality among its business community, leading to a decline in ranking.
Elsewhere in the broader Middle East and North Africa region, Mauritania (129) has experienced an increase in women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income as well as a narrowing of its secondary and tertiary education gender gaps. Turkey (130), meanwhile, records progress on closing the gender gap in estimated earned income and for professional and technical workers. However, its gender gap widens for wage equality and female members of parliament. Bahrain (131) sees a decline in its share of female professional and technical workers as well as a larger-than-before income gender gap due to the Index’s revised scale for calculating estimated earned income. On the positive side, it records an increase in female legislators, senior officials, and managers and it fully closes the secondary education enrolment gender gap, although this progress is not enough to halt a decrease in rank this year due to the collective impact of the above factors on the country’s Economic Participation and Opportunity score. Egypt (132) achieves a narrowing of the gender gap on a number of indicators this year, including wage equality, professional and technical workers, literacy, and women in parliament. It also fully closes its primary and secondary enrolment gender gaps, despite also seeing a stagnating female labour force participation rate and slight deterioration in women’s share of estimated earned income.
Next-ranked are Oman (133), Jordan (134), Lebanon (135) and Morocco (137), all of which report progress on narrowing their overall gender gaps this year, with increased wage equality across the business community in each of the four countries. However, Oman also re-opens its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps.
Iran, Islamic Rep. (139) has narrowed the gender gap for legislators, senior officials and managers as well as women parliamentarians, from a low base. It has also fully closed its gender gap in primary and secondary education. However, it regresses on wage equality, professional and technical workers as well as the tertiary enrolment gender gap.
Saudi Arabia (141) sees a widening gender gap across the entire Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, particularly with regard to the Index’s updated estimate of the scale of the gap in earned income. Saudi Arabia also re-opens its primary, secondary and tertiary education enrolment gender gap this year. More positively, it has recorded the region’s largest improvement on the overall Index over the past decade, as well as the second-largest improvement on Economic Participation and Opportunity globally. On Educational Attainment, it is the fifth-most improved country in the world.
The Middle East and North Africa regional ranking is completed by Syria (142) and YEM (144), which both score in the global bottom three—nearly unchanged from last year—with a low-performing ranking on Economic Participation and Opportunity, in particular.