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Women Make Progress



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The Global Gender Gap

For seven years in a row, Iceland has been rated as the country with the world’s smallest gender gap by the Global Gender Gap Report 2015, a report by the World Economic Forum.

This means that Icelandic women have the most equal access to education and healthcare. They are also the most able to participate in the country’s political and economic structure.

Iceland is joined at the top of the list of 136 nations by Norway, Finland and Sweden.


The report’s co-author Saadia Zahidi said that since 2006, 80% of countries had made progress. “What’s worrying though is that 20% of countries have made no progress or are falling behind,” she said.

The Middle East and North Africa were the only regions not to improve in the past year, with Chad, Pakistan and Yemen at the bottom of the ranking.

Zahidi singled out the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as countries that had invested in education and health, but had not integrated women into the economy.


Nordic countries continued to lead the way because they had a strong tradition of social and political reforms, Zahidi explains. “They are small economies with small populations — but most importantly, they have a liberal and progressive culture.”

Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden had all closed over 80% of the gender gap (100% would represent full equality).

Major Economic Nations

Among major world economies Germany ranked 11th, the UK at 18th, with the United States 28rd and Canada at 30th. Asia’s major economies performed poorly, with China in 91st place and Japan 101st.

The highest-ranked non-Western nations were Rwanda (6th) and the Philippines (7th), praised for their success in health, education and economic participation.

Nicaragua in 12th place was the highest positioned country in North and South America, showed “strong performance” in terms of political empowerment.

Health, Education, the Economy and Politics

On matters of health, the report finds that 96% of the global gender gap has now closed, while in education, 93% is closed.

With economic equality, however, the gender gap has closed by only 60%; women in business leadership positions is limited.

And while women have made small gains in political representation (2%), only 21% of that global gender gap has closed.

“Women make up one half of the human capital available to any economy and any company; if that talent isn’t integrated, that is going to be a loss for both women and men,” Zahidi said.

The top 20 countries for 2015

The highest possible score is 1 (absolute equality) and the lowest possible score is 0 (total inequality).

Rank Country Score
1. Iceland 0.881
2. Norway 0.850
3. Finland 0.850
4. Sweden 0.823
5. Ireland 0.807
6. Rwanda 0.794
7. Philippines 0.790
8. Switzerland 0.785
9. Slovenia 0.784
10. New Zealand 0.782
11. Germany 0.779
12.  Nicaragua 0.776
13. Netherlands 0.776
14. Denmark 0.767
15. France 0.761
28. United States 0.740
36. Australia 0.733
75. Russian Federation 0.694
85. Brazil 0.686
91. China 0.682
101. Japan 0.670
108. India 0.644
125. Nigeria 0.638
141. Iran 0.580
143. Syria 0.568
144. Pakistan 0.559
145. Yemem 0.484


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1. Which countries have the greatest equality for women?

2. The report only look at career and work environment for women. True or false?

3. Are all countries making progress?

4. Have women made progress in all areas in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia? What is happening there?

5. Why do the Scandinavian countries have the least gender gap?

6. The more economically developed the country, the better the situation for women citizens; and the poorer the country, the worse. Is this always the case, usually, sometimes, rarely or never the case? Or there is no relationship?

7. What can you say about equality in health, education, economics, and politics? Are they improving at the same rate?
A. Do women have full equality (in your country)? Are there any challenges or problems women have in your city? Give examples.

B. What can you say about neighboring nations and different ethnic groups in your country?

C. Do women’s role and status depend on their socio-economic class?

D. The status of women has changed over time. Is this correct or incorrect?

E. What will it be like in the future?

F. How can the situation of women be improved?



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