Women are treated more like men in Nordic nations, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2010.
“Nordic countries Iceland (1), Norway (2), Finland (3) and Sweden (4) continue to demonstrate the greatest equality between men and women,” the report states. The study also reasons that nations where men and women are treated equally well have a better chance of rapid economic advancement than those where they are not. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Nordic countries have high income per capita and relatively low national debt. But, that is only a guess.
The Global Gender Gap Report’s index assesses 134 countries on how well they divide resources and opportunities among male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources. The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:
1) Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries,participation levels and access to high-skilled employment;
2) Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education;
3) Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures;
4) Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio.
For reasons that are not clear, France ranked low on the gender gap scoring system in 46th place. The US moved up 12 places since the last survey to 19th place. That put America in the top 20 for the first time since the study began five years ago.
Nations in the Middle East and North Africa ranked poorly, which fits nicely with what the world knows about how woman are treated in those cultures. “Pakistan (132), Chad (133) and Yemen (134) display the widest gaps between women and men in 2010.”
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2010 is a bridge to nowhere. The cultural issues that have caused divides between how men and women are treated will not likely change anytime soon. Europe and the US will continue to rank high in this kind of study. Nations where women have been treated poorly for centuries are under no pressure to change their practices. Countries will set trade embargoes for Iran because of its nuclear activity. No such process is in place for gender discrimination.
Women’s lives may not change for decades or centuries in some countries. Men like the positions they hold, and no one has put themselves in a position to force them to do otherwise.
Douglas A. McIntyre