Despite decades of raising awareness for gender equality, ranking countries based on how differently they treat men and women, and making political pledges to improve the status of women, the world has a long way to go in reaching parity.
In its annual report, the World Economic Forum reviewed the percentages of men and women working, economic opportunities, educational attainment, health status, and political empowerment to measure overall gender equality in 149 countries.
Globally, the overall gender gap stood at 68% in 2018, which was only slightly better than 2017. If current progress rates stay the same the gender gap will close in 61 years in Western Europe — the soonest — and 171 years in East Asia and the Pacific — the latest.
At the current pace of improvement, the overall gender gap will close in about a century from now. Eliminating the differences in economic opportunities and political empowerment will take the longest — 202 and 107 years, respectively. The smallest gaps are in health and life expectancy at birth as well as education.
The 15 countries where the gender gap is the widest are in the Middle East and North Africa. With an average remaining gender gap of 39.8%, the region is the lowest scoring worldwide, followed by South Asia (34.2) and Sub-Saharan Africa (33.7).
The inequality between men and women in terms of economic opportunities has always been a problem, but there are signs the gap is closing, at least in some countries. When it comes to a country’s share of men and women participating in the labor force, some nations fare better than others. And, many of these are not, as some might expect, in the rich and developed world — here are the countries with the highest rates of working women.
The following list is based on the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Report, which compares 149 countries and their progress toward gender parity. The ranking is based on four major dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.