East Asia and the Pacific
With an average remaining gender gap of 31.7%18, the East Asia and the Pacific region scores in the middle of the range of the Global Gender Gap Index. The region is home to two of the overall Index’s top 10 performers, New Zealand and the Philippines, and both have closed about 80% of their total gender gap—far ahead of the region’s next best-placed country. The lower half of the region’s economies have yet to cross the 70% gender parity threshold.
The differences in gender gap size between the highest-ranked and lowest-ranked countries in the region is about 6.5% for Educational Attainment and 6.5% for Health and Survival. To date, only four out of 18 countries in the region have fully closed their Education Attainment gender gap. However, more than half of the countries in the region have closed the gender gap for professional and technical workers, indicating a relatively successful integration of tertiary educated, higher-skilled women into the labour force. The region is also home to three of the five most-improved countries over the past decade on the Health and Survival subindex. However, out of the 18 countries in the region, only Mongolia has fully closed that gap. Across the region, differences in gender parity outcomes are significantly higher on Economic Participation and Opportunity and, in particular, Political Empowerment, with a more than 30% and more than 40% difference in gender gap size between the region’s best and worst performing countries on these dimensions, respectively.
In general, the East Asia and the Pacific region is characterized by relatively high female labour force participation, which translates into a comparatively high regional average on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex. Eleven out of the region’s 18 countries have achieved a level of at least 70% gender parity on Economic Participation and Opportunity, including one—Lao PDR—that has crossed the 90% mark and is the top-ranked country on this subindex. On Political Empowerment, only two out of 18 countries have reached a level of gender parity of more than 40%; a further 11 countries have closed between 10% and 20% of their political gender gap; while five countries have yet to achieve a gender parity level of at least 10%.
In terms of year-on-year progress, out of the 18 countries from the region covered by this year’s Index, 14 countries have increased their overall scores compared to last year, while only four have decreased their overall scores.
New Zealand (7) and The Philippines (8) maintain their overall Index top 10 rankings on the back of strong scores on closing the Political Empowerment gender gap, in particular. Lao PDR (26) takes a leap forward in the rankings due to revised data availability for the country’s estimated earned income; legislators, senior officials and managers; as well as professional and technical workers indicators. This suggests that a much more gender equal situation prevails in the country across these dimensions than previously assumed. In addition, Lao PDR also sees progress on its Educational Attainment gender gap this year, albeit from a low base of educational participation for both men and women.
Australia (39) records a slight widening of its gender gap on legislators, senior officials and managers as well as some reversal of progress on wage equality, resulting in a slight drop in rank. It has closed 73% of its gender gap. Australia is followed by Mongolia (58) which sees an increase in female legislators, senior officials and managers but also an overall drop in female labour force participation.
The next-ranked country is Singapore (67), which records improvements across its entire Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex as well as its first female head of state. Thailand (73) narrows its gender gap across the Educational Attainment subindex and is followed by Viet Nam (77), which sees some small improvements on its Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex. Likewise, Indonesia (85) manages to narrow its economic gender gap this year, but widens its pre-existing one in primary education. Collectively, this group of large ASEAN economies has closed between 69% and 71% of their gender gap so far.
Myanmar (88) moves down several ranks, after entering the Global Gender Gap Index for the first time last year. It nevertheless narrows its gender gap in estimated earned income this year. By contrast, Brunei Darussalam (90) significantly narrows its gender gaps in women’s labour force participation, specifically with regard to legislators, senior officials and managers and professional and technical workers. Cambodia (93) rises several ranks on the back of narrowing gender gaps across Economic Participation and Opportunity and Educational Attainment, specifically with regard to professional and technical workers and basic literacy. Malaysia (101) records greater representation of women in parliament. Both countries rise several ranks and have closed about 68% of their overall gender gaps.
China’s (103) progress towards gender parity has slowed this year. It sees marginal improvements in the share of women in parliament and has fully closed its gender gaps in professional and technical roles and women’s tertiary enrolment, pointing to a positive scenario for the integration of women in the white-collar workforce in China. However, it remains the world’s lowest-ranked country with regard to sex ratio at birth, and its healthy life expectancy gender gap widened again this year, in both relative and absolute terms.
Both Japan (110) and Korea, Rep. (115) climb several spots this year. Japan improves across the entire Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, on the women in parliament indicator—albeit from a low base—and continues a multi-year trend towards near-parity on enrolment in tertiary education, which will ultimately result in the country fully closing its Educational Attainment gender gap for the first time. However, its Health and Survival gender gap is no longer fully closed. Korea likewise sees progress across its Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex and fully closes its secondary education gender gap. All that now separates the country from full gender parity in education is a remaining tertiary enrolment gender gap.
In the Pacific region, Fiji (106) rises several ranks due to a narrowing of its gender gap across the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex, having re-entered the Global Gender Gap Index last year.
Timor-Leste (124) takes the bottom spot in the East Asia and the Pacific region. The country has closed its gender gap in primary and secondary education and performs comparatively well with regard to share of female members of parliament, which has improved this year. However, a significant gender gap remains on its Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex.