Selected Country Performances
This section provides a short commentary for selected countries, namely, the 10 best performers (listed in rank order) in the overall Global Gender Gap index and the 15 most populous countries in the world (listed in alphabetical order). Together, they are home to approximately 2.4 billion women who account for 65% of the world’s female population.
This year’s edition of the Global Gender Gap Index still sees four Nordic countries in the top four positions and two new entrants in the global top 10 list. All but three countries in the overall Index top 10 have closed at least 80% of their overall gender gap—the same as last year.
Iceland (1), once again the country where progress towards gender parity is the most advanced, has closed almost 88% of its gender gap, 3.5 percentage points ahead of the second-ranked Norway. It has closed both its Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gaps completely, and it remains the top performer in terms of Political Empowerment, mainly thanks to long tenures of women as head of the country (over the past 50 years, 22 had a woman as the country leader) but also thanks to significant representation of women in parliament (38.1%) and among ministers (40%). Further, Iceland attains the second-best performance on Economic Participation and Opportunity, where it continues to improve. In fact, not only are 85.8% of women in the labour market (17th) but they can often achieve senior and managerial roles (41.5% of senior officials are women, ranking 21st). In addition, women are 43% of companies board members, and the country achieves these results with a significantly less generous policy towards parental leave than other Nordic countries (for instance, women receive only 68% of their gross salary during maternity leave while in Norway it is 94%; in Sweden, 77.6%; and in France, 90%. Nonetheless, income and wage gaps are still open and will require further efforts to achieve parity on these aspects as well.
Norway (2) maintains its position and further reduces its gender gap. Norway has by now closed 84.2% of its overall gender gap, almost 1 percentage point more than reported last year. The country has already completely closed its Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gaps, while the Economic Participation and Opportunity and Political Empowerment gaps are 79.8% and 59.8% closed, respectively. On the former, women are almost equal to men when it comes to labour force participation (94.5%), and there are more women than men among professional and technical workers. However, women are still significantly less likely to hold managerial positions than men (the split between women and men in senior roles is 35.6% / 64.4%). Also, there are still 26% and 21% of wage and income gaps to be filled. When it comes to Political Empowerment, although Norway ranks 2nd overall, women are still less than 50% of both parliamentarians (40.8%) and ministers (42%).
Finland (3) climbs one place this year, reducing its overall gender gap by 1 percentage point to 84.2%. Finland had already achieved parity on the Educational Attainment and Health and Survival subindexes since the first edition of the Gender Gap Report, and this edition’s improvement is mainly due to a narrower Political Empowerment gap, where the share of women in parliament gets closer to an equal split between women and men. In fact, this share increases to 47% from 42% in the past assessment, counterbalancing a slight decrease in the share of women in ministerial positions (37.5%). Further, Finland marginally reduces its Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap (2 percentage points narrower than last year). This result is mainly driven by a slight increase of women in senior roles (31.8%, versus 31.3% in 2018), which does still translate into a relatively large gender gap level (over 50% of this gap is yet to be bridged). The remaining aspects of the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap remain substantially stable: the gap in labour force participation is relatively small (96% closed so far) and the share of women in skilled roles is already higher than those of men, while the wage and income gaps yet to close remain at about 20% and 28%, respectively.
Sweden (4) loses 1 place as it sees its gap stagnating at 82% and is overtaken by Finland. The country’s gender gap in Economic Participation and Opportunity is marginally regressing due to stagnating labour force participation and wage gender gaps, while differences in income between women and men are slightly diverging. Nonetheless, Sweden remains among the world’s top 15 countries in terms of labour force participation (81% of women are in the labour market) and income gender gaps (76.9%). In addition, women are 38.6% of managers and over 50% of skilled workers. Notably, Sweden has the highest share of women graduates from STEM programmes among Nordic countries (15.7% of female graduates attain a degree from a technical programme). Further, Sweden is ranked fourth globally for the number of women on boards of directors (36.3% of companies’ board members are women). Consistent with the global trend, the political empowerment gender gap is closing in Sweden as well, as 47.3% of parliamentary seats (an increase of 4 percentage points) and 54% of ministerial positions are represented by women. However, there has not yet been a woman head of state in the country.
Nicaragua (5) has, to date, closed nearly 80% of its gender gap, the 5th best performance in the world. Nicaragua has already achieved gender parity in Educational Attainment and Health and Survival, and has the third-lowest Political Empowerment gender gap in the world (43.5% yet to close). Notably, Nicaragua has more women in ministerial positions than men, and has been led by a female head of state for almost seven years of the past 50. However, Nicaragua’s Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap is relatively large by international comparison. The country has closed so far just 67.1% of this gap, ranking 81st. This result is driven by low labour force participation of women (53.9% of them are in the labour market, versus 86% of men) and relatively large wage gaps (45% of this gap is yet to be bridged). Further, the participation of women in the labour market is concentrated in part-time jobs (51.4% of working women are employed part-time) and few women rise to managerial positions (approximately 35% of these positions are filled by women). These aspects show that, although Nicaragua attains a strong performance overall, there are still some important areas for improvement to better leverage female talent in the labour market. In parallel, further investments in skills and education should support better opportunities for all Nicaraguan citizens. For instance, secondary enrolment rates remain low for both boys and girls (52% and 44% respectively), and greater efforts should be made to increase human capital in the country.
New Zealand (6) is ranked one position higher compared to 2018, despite the fact that its overall gender gap is virtually unchanged. New Zealand has closed 79.9% of its overall gender gap so far, and since 2006 has achieved gender parity in Educational Attainment and Health and Survival. The country is also 13th globally in terms of Political Empowerment (47.4% of this gap has been closed so far). With 41% of women in parliament, and a cumulative 12.6 years of the past 50 with a woman as its head of state, New Zealand is among the countries where women are strongly represented in institutions, and one of the first to grant the right to vote to all women (1893). There were, however, fewer women in ministerial positions (30.1%). In terms of Economic Participation and Opportunity, New Zealand is ranked 27th overall, after having closed 75.3% of this gap. Women’s participation in the labour force is relatively high (76.4%) but lower than that of men (85.8%), leading to a gender gap of 11%. The two aspects where New Zealand attains the lowest performances are in this subindex. Women in senior roles are a few decimal points shy of 40% (26th overall) and the wage and income gaps stand at about 29% and 49%, ranking 38th and 77th respectively.
Ireland (7) climbs two positions in 2020, having closed 79.8% of its gender gap; in particular, the country has nearly achieved parity in secondary education (99.6%). Ireland also continues to reduce Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gaps. The country has been on a constantly positive trend for the past four editions and has now closed 73.2% of this gap. The most significant progress has been in the increase in the number of women in senior positions (36% from 34.3%) as well as estimated earned income, where 34.1% of the gap has yet to be closed. Despite these steps forward, however, wage and income gender gaps are still relatively large, both ranking 56th globally. Similarly, women engage in the labour market relatively less than in other countries (ranking 65th), and less than men (66.7% of women and 78.9% of men are in the labour force). Notably, only half of the women who work are employed part-time, and on average an Irish woman tends to spend 2.3 times more than a man on unpaid care and domestic activities. In the political domain, on the other hand, Ireland is one of a handful of countries that has been led by a woman for long periods of time (21 years in the past 50). Yet this has not coincided to a particularly strong involvement of women in politics. Only 22% of parliamentarians in the lower house, 30% in the upper house, and 26% of ministers are women.
Spain (8) is one of the most improved countries in this edition, entering the top 10 from the past edition’s 29th position. Spain has improved on all dimensions, except for Health and Survival where it has already closed 97.2% of its gap. Political Empowerment is the area where the most substantial improvement is achieved. Spain advances 17.3 percentage points in this dimension compared with previous editions, closing 52.7% of this gap thanks to a large representation of women among ministers (64.7%) and an almost equal share of parliamentarians (47.4% women and 42.6%, men). Despite this large step forward however, Spain’s heads of state have so far always been men. To a lesser extent, gender parity in Spain also advances in the workplace (68.1% from last edition’s 66.8%). Despite improving on all aspects of economic participation, however, Spain has yet to bridge large gaps in wages (44.2% yet to close), income (33.9% yet to close) and the presence of women in managerial positions (52.7% yet to close). Only 32% of senior officials (in both public and private sectors) and only 22% of board members in Spanish firms are women. Labour participation of women is also still below that of men (68.8% versus 78.9%), showing that there are still strong cultural and business practices barriers to grant women the same opportunities as men.
Rwanda (9) is confirmed as the best performer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda has closed 79.1% of its gender gap but loses three positions from previous edition. Rwanda is still among the top 4 countries in the world for political empowerment, thanks to a high share of women (above 50%) among both parliamentarians and ministers. Rwanda has also closed its Health and Survival gap and is 4.3% shy of completing gender parity in education. Human capital formation is limited in general, yet women are relatively more penalized than men. For instance, only 69.4% of women and 77.5% of men are literate, and, while gross participation in tertiary education is below 8% for both men and women, there are almost twice as many men than women who obtain scientific and technical degrees. This is to some extent reflected by the relatively large gap that Rwanda has yet to close in terms of Economic Participation and Opportunity (67.2% so far). Despite the fact that Rwanda’s women are as active as men in the labour market, their income and wages remain significantly lower (23.7% and 38.9%, respectively, of these gaps have yet to close). While this may partially due to cultural biases, the skill differences between women and men currently in the labour force also play a role. As a result, a relatively small fraction of Rwanda’s women are employed in skilled professions (38.7%) and an even smaller share is found among senior officials (14%). While skills are not the only factors, the fact that women’s access to education has been limited in the past is still affecting the opportunities they need to compete in the workplace today. Ongoing investments and enhancements in education and human capital promise to offer better opportunities to future generations of Rwanda’s women.
Germany (10) returns into the top ten for the first time since 2007 and has so far closed 78.7% of its gender gap. Similar to several countries in this edition, Germany climbs in the rankings mainly thanks to greater participation of women in politics. Women are now 40% of German ministers, while the share of parliamentarians remains at 30.9%. The ongoing tenure of a woman as a head of state also contributes to further increase Germany’s score on the Political Empowerment subindex. To date 14.1 years of the past 50 have seen a woman in charge of the highest institutional role in the country. However, gender gaps in other dimensions are essentially at the same level as last year. Germany has closed 97.2% of its Educational Attainment gap (there are still more men than women in secondary education) and has virtually achieved gender parity in terms of Health and Survival. When it comes to Economic Participation and Opportunity, however, Germany has only closed 72.3% of its gap. Among the factors that stand out as priorities in this area are the need to fast-forward reduction in wage and income disparities (only 67.1% and 69.5% of these gaps have been closed so far), and the limited presence of women among managers. Only 29.3% of these positions are held by women, which translates into a gap of 58.4%. Similarly, only 31.9% of board members of German-listed companies are women. Paternity leave is also relatively limited: only nine weeks are granted to men. Enhancing an even playing field to both genders in the workplace is the next step for Germany’s progress towards full gender parity.
Top 15 most populous countries
Bangladesh has closed 72.6% of its overall gender gap and ranks 50th on the index. The country improves its score marginally by 0.4 percentage points but loses two positions nonetheless, as other countries have improved even more. Bangladesh is the best performer in South Asia, ahead of Nepal (101st) and Sri Lanka (102nd), and some 60 places ahead of India (112th). But its presence in the top 50 and regional leadership should not hide the fact that there is considerable room to bolster basic rights of women and improve their economic and political prospects. It is the only country in the world where women have had a longer tenure than men at the helm of the state over the past 50 years. This contributes to the strong performance on the Political Empowerment subindex (score of 54.5%, 7th). But there are only 8% of women in the cabinet and only 20% in the parliament. In the economic sphere, as of 2018, 38% of adult women were part of the labour force (up from 34% in 2017), compared with 84% of men. Only one in 10 leadership roles is occupied by a woman (139th), and the estimated average annual income of women is 40% that of the men.
Progressing three places over 2018, Brazil ranks 92nd with an overall score of 69.1%. The country has closed 69% of its overall gender gap, up one percentage point from the previous edition. Despite this improvement, Brazil has one of Latin America’s largest gender gaps, ranking 22nd out of 25 countries in the region, and almost 90 places behind Nicaragua (80.4%, 5th), the region’s best performer. The country has closed both the educational and health gender gaps. There is perfect gender parity in literacy rate (93%) and primary education (95%), and a larger proportion of women than men are enrolled in both secondary and tertiary education, where there are 140 female students for every 100 male students. Furthermore, women can expect to live five years more than men in good health. The economic gender gap remains wide but has narrowed over the past year (score of 69.1%, 92nd). The low rate of female participation in the labour force, combined with persisting wage and income inequalities, weigh on the country’s performance on this subindex, but the occupation gap is much narrower. Brazil ranks among the 70 countries in the world that have reached parity between women and men for technical and professional roles, and some 40% of leadership roles (managers, senior officials, legislators) are filled by women (27th). Political empowerment, or lack thereof, represents the biggest drag on Brazil’s overall performance; with a score of 13.3%, the country ranks 104th in the world. As of June 2019, only two positions in the 22-member cabinet were held women (122nd) and women represent only 18% of the members of the parliament (114th).
China ranks 106th, down 3 places, on the Global Gender Gap Index 2020. The country has closed two-thirds of its gender gap (score of 67.6%), registering a very small gain of 0.3 percentage points from the previous edition. But since 2006, China has narrowed the gap only marginally (a gain of just 2 points). Meanwhile, many countries have moved closer to parity, causing China to slip from 63rd position in 2006 to today’s rank. The Chinese political landscape remains dominated by men. The country ranks 95th, with a score of 15.4%, on the related subindex. Women hold only two ministerial positions and make up only one-quarter of the National People’s Congress membership (as of 2018). Leadership positions in the economy also largely remain the preserve of the men, with one woman for every five men in these roles. China has virtually closed the educational gender gap, with both sexes achieving universal literacy. Although data is scant, available figures show that the share of women attending tertiary education is larger than the share of men. Finally, the very skewed sex ratio at birth (885 girls per 1,000 boys) weighs heavily on China’s performance on the Health and Survival subindex, where it ranks 153rd and last with a score of 92.6%.
Egypt is home to 48.7 million women, and improvements to their conditions will have a significant impact on the country’s economic and social progress. To date, Egypt has closed only 62.9% of its gender gap, ranking 134th. Much has yet to be done to grant equal opportunities to women in almost all aspects. The literacy rate is still as low as 65% among women, which translates into a 15% gender gap yet to bridge. Political empowerment is also low yet improving. Although there has never been a woman in a head of state position, and only 14.9% of parliamentarians are women, there are now significantly more women in ministerial positions (24%) than in 2018 (11.8%). This progress can hopefully stimulate further the involvement of women in politics as well as in the workplace. When it comes to economic opportunities, Egypt has a long way to go yet (140th). Only 24.7% of women are in the labour force, out of which about 20% are on a part-time contract. Further, very few women are in managerial roles (7.1%) and their presence among firms’ owners and top managers is also extremely limited (2.4% and 4.9%, respectively). These facts reflect the barriers that still prevent women to access finance and assets. By law, there are still significant limitations for women (at least for some social groups) to own land, capital and financial products. As a result, differences in income (which include wage and non-wage revenues) between men and women are large. It is estimated that the income of an average man is about 3.8 times that of an average woman. Removing all barriers that grant equal access to women and men to internships should be a first step to leveraging untapped human talent of women in the country.
Ethiopia is 82nd in the 2020 rankings and has closed 70.5% of its gender gap to date. It has achieved full parity on its Health and Survival subindex and has attained the 16th position globally in terms of Political Empowerment. Almost half (47.6%) of ministers are women, and a woman was elected president in 2018. In addition, 38.8% of parliament seats are occupied by women. Despite these remarkable results, women still suffer from underdevelopment in health services. For instance, every year 400 mothers out of every 100,000 die giving birth, and only 27% of births are attended by skilled health personnel. Further, Ethiopia is struggling to progress on gender parity in education (85.0%, 140th) and economic opportunities (56.8%, 125th). Investments in human capital are insufficient in general, but women are even more penalized than men. Only 44% of women and 59% of men are literate, and almost 20% of girls and 12% of boys are not receiving formal primary education. At higher levels of education, participation is even lower: only 5.2% of women and 10.9% of men graduating from high school attend university. Delays in preparing the talent pool also translate into low employment performances. Labour force participation is skewed towards men: 87.8% of men are in active employment versus 77% of women. Wages and income are low in general, and gender gaps are still significant (51% and 42% of the wage and income gender gaps are yet to be closed). Women are also a minority among skilled workers (32.6%) and managers and senior officials (26.5%). Despite the fact that legislation does not restrain women from accessing assets, there are still some limitations for women who belong to some ethnic or social groups, which leads to a relatively low number of female entrepreneurs (16.5%) in general.
India ranks 112th on the overall Global Gender Gap Index and the country has closed two-thirds of its overall gender gap (score of 66.8%). However, the condition of women in large fringes of India’s society is precarious. It has lost four positions since the previous edition, despite a small score improvement, as some countries ranked lower than India have improved more. The economic gender gap runs particularly deep in India. Only one-third of the gap has been bridged (score of 35.4%, 149th, down 7 places). Since 2006, the gap has gotten significantly wider. Among the 153 countries studied, India is the only country where the economic gender gap is larger than the political gender gap. Only one-quarter of women, compared with 82% of men, engage actively in the labour market (i.e. working or looking for work)—one of the lowest participation rates in the world (145th). Furthermore, female estimated earned income is a mere one-fifth of male income, which is also among the world’s lowest (144th). Women only account for 14% of leadership roles (136th) and 30% of professional and technical workers. India ranks a low 150th on the Health and Survival subindex (94.4), as a result of the skewed sex ratio at birth: there are 91 girls born per 100 boys born, a ratio well below the natural one. Violence, forced marriage and discrimination in access to health remain pervasive. The situation and the trend are more positive in terms of gender gaps in education. From primary to tertiary education, the share of women attending school is systematically larger than the share of men. But a large difference persists for literacy rate; only two-thirds of women are literate compared with 82% of men. Yet the gap has been narrowing in the past decade, because the literacy rate has significantly increased among women (66%) and slightly decreased among men to 79%. Finally, India ranks 18th (score of 41.1%) on the Political Empowerment subindex. Of the past 50 years, the country was headed by a woman for 20 years (4th) which largely explains this strong performance. But today, female political representation is low: women make up only 14.4% of the parliament (122nd) and 23% of the cabinet (69th).
Indonesia retains its 85th position on the Global Gender Gap Index, despite a small improvement in its score (70.0, up 1 percentage point). The country has closed 70% of its gender gap. The economic gap remains large but has narrowed considerably since 2006. For example, in the last year alone, Indonesia jumped 28 places on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex rankings (68.5%, 68th), constituting one of the most significant improvements on this dimension globally. Indonesia boasts the world’s largest share (55%) of senior and leadership roles held by women and is one of the six countries in the world where a majority of such roles are held by women. On the other hand, the low share of women (54%) participating in the labour market and significant difference in income distribution (female earned income is half that of men) continue to weigh on the country’s performance on this subindex. Both the educational and health gender gaps have nearly closed (scores of 97.0 and 97.4% on the respective subindexes). However, small imbalances persist in terms of literacy rates (94% among women compared with 97% among men) and primary enrolment rate (91% versus 96%), although levels are extremely high and rising for both sexes. Whereas the trends are overwhelmingly positive in the economic, health and educational spheres, the political gender gap has widened slightly, from a low base (17.2%, 82nd down 22 places). This results from weaker female representation in parliament (17.4%, down from 19.8%) and in the cabinet (24%, down from 26%).
Japan’s gender gap is by far the largest among all advanced economies and has widened over the past year. The country ranks 121st out of 153 countries on this year’s Global Gender Gap Index, down 1 percentage point and 11 positions from 2018. Japan has narrowed slightly its economic gender gap, but from a very low base (score of 59.8, 115th). Indeed, the gap in this area is the third-largest among advanced economies, after Italy (117th) and the Republic of Korea (127th). Only 15% of senior and leadership positions are held by women (131st), whose income is around half that of men (108th). The progress achieved in the economic arena has been more than offset by a widening of the political gender gap. Japan has only closed 5% of the gap in this dimension (144th). At 10%, female representation in the Japanese parliament is one of the lowest in the world (135th) and 20% below the average share across advanced economies. Furthermore, there is only one woman in the 18-member cabinet. This translates into a rate of approximately 5% (139th), 26% below the peer (high income) average. Finally, like more than half of the countries studied, Japan has had no female head of state in the last 50 years.
Mexico is one of the most improved countries this year, reaching the 25th position with a score of 75.4%. Most of this progress is due to a large increase in the number of women in ministerial positions, jumping from 15.8% in 2018 to 42.1%. In addition, women represent over 48% of seats in the country’s parliament. These factors explain why Mexico has closed 46.8% of its gender gap on the Political Empowerment subindex, where it ranks 14th. Further, Mexico has almost completely closed both its Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gaps. Economically, however, women are still disadvantaged. Mexico has closed just 57.4% of its Economic Participation and Opportunity gap, ranking 124th. Significant gaps in both wages (50%) and income (54%) show how women are less valued than men in the workplace. At the same time, women struggle to attain senior positions (36%) and are not very active in the labour market in the first place. Only 47% of women are in the labour force, 26.4% of them work part-time and women continue to spend three times as much as men on unpaid household care activities.
Nigeria has so far closed 63.5% of its gender gap, which places it 128th on the global rankings. Nigeria performs relatively better in offering comparable economic opportunities to both men and women than it does on the other dimensions of the index. The country has closed 73.8% of its Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap to date (38th globally) and is one of the most improved countries globally on this aspect since 2018 (almost 8 percentage points better than last edition). Labour force participation, wages and income are low for both men and women, which has led to relatively positive gender parity outcomes that are however unsatisfactory from a human development point of view. For instance, average annual incomes are estimated to be close to 4,600 int.$ for women and 6,300 for men. In terms of occupations, women represent a higher share of skilled professionals than men (64.6%), but a significantly lower share of senior positions (30.3%). Literacy rates are also insufficient and skewed in favour of men (52.6% and 71.3%, respectively). Similarly, participation of women in formal in education is relatively low compared to other countries in the index, leading to gender gaps of almost 17% in primary education, 13% in secondary education and nearly 30% at the university level. Only 58% of girls are in primary school, 47% of them attend secondary school and just 8.3% go to university. Among politicians, only 3.4% of parliamentarians (149th) and 8% of ministers are women (124th). Nigeria has never had a female head of state.
Pakistan ranks third-to-last (151st) on the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index, having closed only 56% of the gender gap. This performance represents an improvement from the previous edition (55.0), but it is insufficient to prevent Pakistan from falling in the rankings, as new countries have entered the rankings at a higher position. Pakistan ranks in the bottom 10 in three of the four main categories of the index and below the 100th mark in 12 of the 14 individual indicators composing the index. Encouragingly, however, Pakistan improves on a majority of them—sometimes markedly and is stable in the others. The gap remains cavernous in terms of economic participation and opportunities (32.7, 150th). Only one-quarter of women participate in the labour force (i.e. working or looking to work) compared with 85% of men (148th). Only 5% of senior and leadership roles are held by women (146th), twice the rate of 2016. It is estimated that only 18% of Pakistan’s labour income goes to women (148th), one of the lowest share among countries studied. While a majority of countries have bridged or nearly bridged the educational gender gap, Pakistan’s still stands at almost 20%. Less than half of women are literate, compared with 71% of men, while the share of women enrolled is systematically lower than the share of men across primary, secondary and tertiary education. The political gender gap has narrowed markedly over the past two years but remains wide (15.9, 93rd). In 2017, there was not a single female minister. As of 1 January 2019, there were three women in the 25-member cabinet.
The Philippines has closed 78% of its overall gender gap. Once a member of the top 10 on the Global Gender Gap Index, the country now ranks 16th as a result of a small decline in its score (78.1, down 1.8 percentage points). The Philippines boasts the smallest gender gap of the Asian continent by far—the second best is Lao PDR, which ranks 43rd. The country’s performance is strong across three of the four dimensions of the index. It has closed 80% of the Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, with women outnumbering men in senior and leadership roles, as well as in professional and technical professions. It is only one of four countries to achieve this feat. The country ranks 5th on the indicator assessing gender wage equality, with a score of 81.2. The Philippines has closed both its Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gender gaps. Women can expect to live in good health five years longer than men. Literacy is universal, with rates above 98% for both sexes. A significantly larger share of women is enrolled in secondary education (71% compared with 60% of men) and tertiary education (57% versus 43%). However, the Political Empowerment gap has widened considerably over the past two years, albeit from a relatively high base (score of 35.3%, down 0.063), causing the country to drop from 13th to 29th position. This downgrade is almost entirely attributable to lower female representation in the cabinet, which declined from 25% to 10% between 2017 and 2019. Female representation in the parliament was also slightly down and stood at 28% at the beginning of 2019.
The Russian Federation has closed 70.6% of its gap so far and ranks 81st overall in 2020. Russian women are, on average, more educated than men and live longer but seldom achieve positions of leadership. Ninety-one percent of women attend high school (versus 90.4% of men), 89% of female high-school graduates are enrolled in tertiary education versus 75% of men, and women enjoy a healthy life expectancy that is almost 8 years longer than men. In addition, there are almost as many women as men holding a PhD (64% vs. 66%). Given these qualifications, Russian women not only participate in the labour force at high levels (68.9% are in the labour market), but they are employed in skilled jobs to a greater extent than men (62.3% of professional and technical workers are women). Despite their average level of skill however, women are still penalized financially: only 71.2% of the wage gap and 57.9% of the income gap have been closed so far. Income disparities are partially explained by the fact the women encounter resistance to access senior or managerial positions: 41.8% of managers and senior officials are women and only 7% of board members are women. Political participation is even more difficult. Russia has closed less than 10% of its Political Empowerment gap so far and ranks only 122nd on this subindex. Not only has there never been a woman as a head of state, but there are few women among ministers (12.9%) and parliamentarians (15.8%). As a result, despite the fact that Russian society provides women with broad access to education and some segments of the labour market, a glass ceiling is preventing most of them from accessing positions of power either in politics or in the business sector.
The United States’ progress towards gender parity is stalling and the country registers a similar overall score to last year (72.4% of the gap closed so far). Due to this lack of progress, the United States loses two positions in the ranking and is now 53rd. The standstill is mostly explained by a small retraction in its Economic Participation and Opportunity performance, where the progress towards equal wages takes a step back and at the same time income (wages and non-wages) gaps remain large. The United States has only closed 69.9% of its wage gap and 65.6% of its income gap so far. While monetary disparities are the main source of gender inequality in the workplace, labour force participation and the presence of women in skilled and senior positions women are relatively better: 66.8% of adult women are in the labour market, with an equal split between men and women in technical occupation and a 41/59 split among senior roles, ranking 22nd. Despite being relatively well represented in middle and high management roles, American women still struggle to enter the very top business positions: only 21.7% of corporate managing board members are women. Similarly women are under-represented in political leadership roles. Even with a significant increase in the number of women in parliament and ministerial positions compared to previous years, congresswomen are just 23.6% of the available seats (67th), and female minsters are only 21.7% of the cabinet (76th). In addition, there has never been a woman president to date. On a more positive note, gender parity is virtually achieved in Health and Survival and Educational Attainment, where female enrolment rates are above 90% across education levels, and outnumber the men in tertiary education.
Viet Nam has bridged 70% of its gender gap. The country ranks 87th in 2020, down 10 positions from the previous edition. Its performance across the four dimensions of the index is mostly unchanged, but several countries have improved over the past year and, consequently, overtaken Viet Nam. The country ranks 31st, up two positions, on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex (score of 75.1%). Estimates indicate that 45% of labour income accrue to women, one of the largest shares among countries studied. Limited data availability provides only a partial picture of the educational gender gap but suggests that there is almost parity in this area. The literacy rate is 94% for women and 96% for men, and a larger share of women attends tertiary education (32% compared with 26% for men). In terms of the Health and Survival subindex (94.2, 151st), Viet Nam gets penalized for the heavily skewed sex ratio at birth (89 girls for every 100), which is the lowest in the world and on par with China and Azerbaijan. Finally, female participation in political life remains limited. Women represent one-quarter of the parliament, but there is only one woman in the cabinet of 25 ministers, one of the world’s lowest ratios.