The Global Gender Gap Report 2013


The Global Gender Gap Report 2013Global Gender Gap Report 2013, published  by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum.

The World Economic Forum, the nonprofit organization known for its annual economic summit in Davos Switzerland has been publishing an annual global gender report since 2006 that ranks countries by their gender performance.

Nordic countries continued to lead the way because they had a long history of investing in people, according to Saadia Zahidi, co-author of the report and head of the Women Leaders and Gender Parity Program.

“They are small economies with small populations; they recognize that talent matters,” she said.

The Global Gender Gap Index was developed in 2006 by the World Economic forum to track the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women.

It aims to show how different countries are distributing their resources between the two genders and reveal how some countries are role models for equitable distribution of resources between male and female population, eventually raising awareness on the importance of reducing the gender gaps globally. The index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparison across regions and income groups and over time.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 finds 86 out of 133 countries improved their global gender gap between 2012 and 2013, with the area of political participation seeing the greatest progress. 

The eighth annual edition of the Report ranks 136 countries on their ability to close the gender gap in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment, political participation and economic equality. Of the 133 countries that were measured in  both 2012 and 2013, 86 actually improved their gender gap during this time. Overall, the Report finds Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running.


The Global Gender Gap Report’s index assesses 136 countries, representing more than 93% of the world’s population, on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations. The Report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:

  • Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation and highly skilled employment
  • Educational attainment – access to basic and higher levels of education
  • Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures
  • Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio

Index scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men. Of these, 110 have been covered since the first edition of the Report in 2006. Of the 14 variables used to create the index, 13 are from publicly available hard data indicators from international organizations such as the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organization.

The magnitude and particulars of gender gaps in countries around the world are the combined result of various socio-economic and cultural variables. The closure or continuation of these gaps is intrinsically connected to the framework of national policies in place. For the third consecutive year, the Report includes new data from a survey of various national ministries analyzing the use of policies designed to facilitate female workforce participation in 87 countries.

Regional performances

While Nordic countries excelled in their performances a number of African countries, such as Lesotho (16th), South Africa (17th), Burundi (22nd) and Mozambique (26th), fare relatively well in this year’s report. This is largely due to the participation of women in the workforce.

The United States and Russia, the world’s two major powers that never had a woman as its President, are placed 23rd and 61st respectively.

Mexico climbs 16 places to 68 due to increases in the number of female parliamentarians and the number of women in professional roles.

Asia’s major economies performed poorly, except for Philippines which entered the list of top five for the first time, primarily due to success in health, education and economic participation with China in 69th place, India 101st, Japan 105th and South Korea 111th.

Middle East and North Africa is the only region not to have improved its overall standing in 2013. The highest placed country in the region is the United Arab Emirates, 109th. At the bottom of the ranking are Chad, Pakistan and Yemen.

Europe’s progress towards eliminating its gender gap is polarized, with countries from Northern and Western Europe presenting a stark contrast to those from the South and East.

In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited, the report notes.

The annual Global Gender Gap Report provides a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender disparities around the world and aims to serve as a tool for bench marking and tracking gender inequalities based on economic, political, education and health criteria; the 2013 edition of the report covers 136 economies. provides a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender disparities around the world and aims to serve as a tool for benchmarking and tracking gender inequalities based on economic, political, education and health criteria; the 2013 edition of the report covers 136 economies.

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