Ahead of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, which takes place this week in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, below is a list of the five most gender equal countries in South-East Asia. The findings are based on the Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap Report, which measures to what extent women are held back by factors relating to economics, politics, education and health in 135 countries.

The Philippines (8 out of 135) is the only country from the region that has closed the educational attainment and health and survival gender gaps. The Philippines also performs in the top 10 globally in terms of the number of female legislators, senior officials and managers, as well as in its female literacy rate, enrolment in secondary education and years with female head of state.

Singapore (55) gained two places this year, most notably through an increase in women’s salaries relative to men’s. Singapore is part of the 20 best performing countries in the economic participation and opportunity sub-index. However, it is also one of the nine countries without a female minister and one of the 10 worst performing countries on the sex ratio at birth indicator, which reflects the prevalence of attempts to modify the natural sex ratio at birth.

Thailand (65) lost five places in the 2012 overall ranking due to declines in wage equality and estimated earned income ratios. Thailand is one of four countries from the South-East Asia region that has closed the gender gap for health and survival.

Vietnam (66) gained 13 places through an increase in the enrolment in tertiary education and in the percentage of female ministers. Vietnam’s improvement in the 2012 overall ranking is the most significant improvement in the region. Despite this important gain, Vietnam still shows a disproportionate sex ratio at birth (131 out of 135 countries).

Timor Leste (68) enters the Index for the first time this year due to improved availability of data.


Author: Yasmina Bekhouche is a Project Manager on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Parity Team. 

Image: Students dance to the theme song of the One Billion Rising campaign, which calls for an end to violence against women and girls, at the St. Scholastica college in Manila. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco