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PIA Press Release

WEF notes successful efforts of RP to narrow down gender gap

Davos (3 February) -- The World Economic Forum (WEF) has noted the success of government efforts to narrow down the gender gap in the Philippines.

In its website, the WEF pointed out that for two consecutive years 2007 and 2008 -- the Philippines had held tight to its record as the 6th country in the world in the gender gap rankings.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived here on Saturday to attend this year's annual meeting of world economic and government leaders.

The Philippines was the only Asian country which landed in the Top 10 of the WEF's Global Gender Gap 2008 Rankings. Switzerland, where the WEF is based, was down at No. 14 spot.

Topping the list of 10 countries in the rankings was Norway -- up from No. 2 in 2007 -- with a score of 82.39 percent.

Norway was followed by Finland, 81.95 percent; Sweden, 81.39 percent; Iceland, 79.99 percent; New Zealand, 78.59 percent; Philippines, 75.68 percent; Denmark, 75.38 percent; Ireland, 75.18 percent; Netherlands, 73.99 percent; and Latvia, 73.97 percent.

In the lower 11th to 20th places were Germany, 73.94 percent; Sri Lanka, 73.71 percent; United Kingdom, 73.66 percent; Switzerland, 73.60 percent; France, 73.41 percent; Lesotho, 73.20 percent; Spain, 72.81 percent; Mozambique, 72.66 percent; Trinidad and Tobago, 72.45 percent; and Moldova, 72.44 percent.

The WEF survey placed the United States at 27th per cent; China, 57th, and Brazil at 73rd percent.

Those in the "bottom half of the rankings" were Tunisia, 103 percent; Jordan, 104; United Arab Emirates, 105; Syria, 107; Ethiopia, 122, and Saudi Arabia, 128 percent.

The WEF said the Global Gender Gap Index scores "can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap between women and men that has been closed."

It added that the 2008 Global Gender Gap Report was "based on the innovative new methodology introduced in 2006 and includes detailed profiles that provide insight into the economic, legal and social aspects of the gender gap in each country."

The Report "measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women," namely:

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; and

4) Health and survival outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio."

The WEF said its Gender Gap Report also "provides some evidence on the link between the gender gap and the economic performance of countries."

"Our work shows a strong correlation between competitiveness and the gender gap scores. While this does not imply causality, the possible theoretical underpinnings of this link are clear: countries that do not fully capitalize effectively on one-half of their human resources run the risk of undermining their competitive potential. We hope to highlight the economic incentive behind empowering women, in addition to promoting equality as a basic human right," said Laura Tyson, professor of Business Administration and Economics at the University of California in Berkeley, USA.

Tyson collaborated with Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Centre for International Development at Harvard University, and Saadia Zahidi, head of Constituents at the WEF, in producing the gender gap report.

For his part, Hausmann said, "The Index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities.

"Thus, the Index does not penalize those countries that have low levels of education overall, for example, but rather those where the distribution of education is uneven between women and men."

WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab, meanwhile, stressed that the "Greater representation of women in senior leadership positions within governments and financial institutions is vital not only to find solutions to the current economic turmoil, but to stave off such crises in future.

"At the World Economic Forum, we put strong emphasis on addressing this challenge with a multi-stakeholder approach through our global and regional Gender Parity Groups," Schwab added.

The World Economic Forum continues to expand the Report's geographic coverage, with Barbados and Brunei included in the 2008 Report.

Featuring a total of 130 countries, the 2008 Report "provides an insight into the gaps between women and men in over 92% of the world's population."

"The Report covers all current and candidate European Union countries, 23 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 from sub-Saharan Africa, over 20 from Asia and 15 from the Middle East and North Africa.

"Thirteen out of the 14 variables used to create the Index 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 WEF added. (PIA) [top]

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