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. Rwanda ranks in the top 10 globally. Two countries, Namibia and South Africa, score in the top 20 and have closed 78% to 76% of their gender gaps; and the region features many of the lowest-ranked countries in the Index, such as Mali and Chad, which have not yet closed 60% of their overall gender gap. This high variance can be explained by high diversity on the Educational Attainment subindex—much higher than for any other region—as well as uneven Health and Survival outcomes. No country from the region has fully closed both its Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gender gaps. Botswana and Lesotho have fully closed their Educational Attainment gender gaps and seven others—Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Mauritius, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi—have fully closed their Health and Survival gender gaps.
Globally, Sub-Saharan Africa continues to rank last on the Educational Attainment subindex. Whereas 15 countries from the region have fully closed their gender gap for primary education, 14 have closed it for secondary education and only seven for tertiary education. Four 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 nine countries from Sub-Saharan Africa in the global top 20 on this indicator, and Mozambique, Burundi, Malawi and Rwanda demonstrating a higher representation of women in the labour force than men—which translates into a high regional average on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex.
Of the 30 countries from the region covered by the Index this year, 13 have increased their overall score compared to last year, while 17 have seen decreasing scores.
Rwanda (4) consolidates its position as the region’s top performer, and the only country from the region ranked in the global top 10. Namibia (13) overtakes Burundi (22) to place second in the region, due to its progress on women’s share of estimated earned income and Political Empowerment, as well as the latter’s significant widening of the gender gap on Educational Attainment and women in ministerial positions. The region’s representation in the global Index top 20 is completed by South Africa (19), which records an increase in the share of female legislators, senior officials and managers, but also experiences a widening gender gap for wage equality for similar work as well as estimated earned income. Mozambique (29) moves down several ranks, with a widening gender gaps in basic literacy and women’s representation in ministerial roles. More positively, it makes progress towards fully closing its Health and Survival gender gap. The next-ranked country in the region is Uganda (45), which climbs several ranks to its highest-ever score on the back of notable increases in women’s share of estimated earned income and on the Political Empowerment subindex. However, the country sees progress slip on enrolment in secondary education and basic literacy.
Botswana (46) and Zimbabwe (50) see progress on women in ministerial positions and enrolment in tertiary education. Both have regressed slightly, however, on women’s share of estimated earned income. They are then followed by a cluster of countries that score in the middle range of the region—and of the Index overall—but which have seen their gender gaps somewhat widen this year: Tanzania (68), Ghana (72), Lesotho (73), Kenya (76), Madagascar (80), Cape Verde (89) and Malawi (101). These widening gender gaps are concentrated in a few specific areas: women’s share of ministerial positions, which has decreased in all countries in the group except Malawi; basic literacy, regressing in all except Lesotho; and women’s share in estimated earned income, which has declined in all except Cape Verde. Despite these negative trends, some localized progress is also evident, notably on wage equality and gender parity in healthy life expectancy, both of which see increases in Cape Verde, Kenya and Madagascar in particular. Most countries in this group have also recorded steady improvements on the Educational Attainment subindex over recent years.
The next regional cluster of countries features a number of West African nations, including Cameroon (87), Senegal (91), Liberia (107), Guinea (113) and Benin (116), all of which have recorded some progress on closing their gender gap this year. Improvements in this group are concentrated in women’s estimated earned income, healthy life expectancy and across the Educational Attainment subindex. They are followed by Swaziland (105), Mauritius (112)—whose progress towards gender parity continues to be reflected by a female head of state and improvements on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex—and Ethiopia (115), which this year sees a widening of its gender gap in basic literacy and primary enrolment, despite continued progress towards fully closing its secondary enrolment gender gap. Next in the rankings are The Gambia (119), Burkina Faso (121) and Angola (123).
Nigeria (122) makes notable progress towards closing its gender gaps in women’s estimated earned income, enrolment in secondary education, healthy life expectancy and wage equality for similar work. However, these achievements are outweighed by a decline in women in ministerial positions and reversals on the Educational Attainment subindex. The Sub-Saharan Africa regional table is completed by bottom-ranked Côte d’Ivoire (133), Mali (139) and Chad (141), which this year moves down one rank due to falling progress on the Educational Attainment subindex.