With an average remaining gender gap of 32%, the Sub-Saharan Africa region scores in the lower middle range of the Global Gender Gap Index, ahead of South Asia and behind Eastern Europe and Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. It displays a wider range of gender gap outcomes than practically any other region: one top ten country, Rwanda; three countries, Burundi, Namibia and South Africa, that score in the top 20 and have closed 76% to 77% of their gender gaps; as well as many of the lowest-ranked countries in the Index, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Chad, who have not yet closed 60% of their overall gender gap. This high variance is explained by high diversity on the Educational Attainment subindex—much higher than for any other region—as well as uneven Health and Survival outcomes. Only one country from the region, Lesotho, has fully closed both its Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gender gaps. Botswana has fully closed its Educational Attainment gender gap and six others—Angola, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe—have fully closed their Health and Survival gender gaps.
Globally, Sub-Saharan Africa continues to rank last on the Educational Attainment subindex: Whereas 16 countries from the region have fully closed their gender gap for primary education, only 11 have closed it for secondary education and seven for tertiary education. Eight of the 10 lowest-ranked countries on the literacy rate indicator are from the region. On Health and Survival, the region has improved more than any other over the past decade. The region is characterized by high female labour force participation—with 11 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa in the global top 20 on this indicator and Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi demonstrating a higher representation of women in the labour force than men—translating into a high regional average on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex. Must of this participation however is low-skilled and the region must make higher investments in education.
Of the 30 countries from the region covered by the Index this year, 19 countries have increased their overall score compared to last year, while 11 have seen it decreasing.
Rwanda (5) continues to be the region’s top performer, and the only country from the region ranked in the global top ten, marking progress this year in closing the gender gap on tertiary enrolment and estimated earned income while slipping on the more basic literacy rate gender gap. On the Political Empowerment subindex, Rwanda maintains its place in the global top ten as one of only two countries worldwide that have more women in parliament than men. Burundi (12) sees a big improvement in its score this year—breaking back into the top 20 with its highest-ever recorded ranking—due to progress in nearly closing its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps, albeit from a low base, as well as to increases in wage equality. It is joined in the global Index top 20 by Namibia (14) and South Africa (15), both of which climb this year due to progress in closing their gender gaps in women’s labour force participation and estimated earned income, as well as to improvements on the Political Empowerment subindex. However, both countries record a decrease in wage equality. Mozambique (21) improves several ranks and almost enters the top 20, with progress in women’s estimated earned income and wage equality, and a narrowing gender gap in secondary and tertiary education enrolment.
The next-ranked country in the region is Cape Verde (36), which likewise climbs several ranks and sees improvement in women in parliament, wage equality and estimated earned income, in particular. It is then followed by a cluster of countries that score in the middle range of the region—and of the Index overall: Tanzania (53), Botswana (54), Zimbabwe (56), Lesotho (57), Ghana (59), Madagascar (60), Uganda (61), Kenya (63) and Malawi (67). This year, widening and narrowing gender gaps in this field are concentrated on a few areas: women’s estimated earned income—decreasing in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi but improving in Botswana—wage equality—improving in Botswana and Kenya but slipping in Ghana and Madagascar—and women’s share of legislators, senior officials, and managers as well as professional and technical workers, which have increased in Zimbabwe and Madagascar. Most countries in this group also record steady improvements on the Educational Attainment subindex.
The next regional cluster of countries includes a number of West African nations, including Senegal (82), Cameroon (85) and The Gambia (104). They are followed by Swaziland (107) and Ethiopia (109), which this year climbs several ranks on the back of progress in closing its gender gap in secondary and tertiary education enrolment. Next-ranked are Mauritius (113), Liberia (114) and Angola (117).
Nigeria (118) advances several ranks and manages to narrow its gender gaps in secondary education enrolment and wage equality. A further cluster of West African countries follows: Burkina Faso (123), Benin (127), Côte d’Ivoire (136) and Mali (138). The Sub-Saharan Africa region is completed by bottom-ranked Chad (140), which this year climbs two ranks on the back of progress towards closing its secondary education enrolment gap.