Philippines and New Zealand continue to lead the way in Asia and the Pacific region and are the only two countries from the region to hold places in the top 10 of the global rankings in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2013 report.

The report ranks 136 countries on their ability to close the gender gap – making sure women are not held back – in four key areas: health and survival, education, politics and economic equality.

Philippines (5 out of 136) claims the top spot of the region from New Zealand. Previously in eighth position, Philippines’ improvement is characterized by small improvements in economic participation and opportunity. This year, Philippines scored higher in the wage equality survey, improved its estimated earned income and has a larger representation of female professional and technical workers.

New Zealand (7) also features in the top 15 performing countries on economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment and political empowerment.

Australia (24) gains one position from last year due to an improvement in economic participation and opportunity, particularly in wage equality and income. It continues to hold a strong position in the rankings due to high levels of education, economic participation and political empowerment.

Mongolia (33) significantly improved from its 2012 position of 44th place. It is also one of two countries that showed the greatest improvement from 2012. This was in part due to its efforts to close the gender gap in political empowerment.

Sri Lanka (55) significantly worsened from its 2012 position of 39th place. The country saw the largest fall in the rankings for the region as a whole, falling 16 spots relative to its performance last year due to a fall in both the economic participation and opportunity and the political empowerment of women.

Singapore (58) dropped three places from 55th place but this was due to improved scores by other countries.

Lao PDR (60) features in the index for the first time this year.

Thailand (65) improved its political empowerment score but remained in the same place as last year.

China (69) is the only country to have narrowed the gender gap in health and survival this year. It continues to hold the 69th position while showing an absolute increase in the overall score.

Vietnam (73) dropped seven places from 66th place in 2012, mainly due to worsening in wage equality.

Explore our interactive map below, and find out which countries are ahead on gender equality.

Image: A woman cycles past the main wall of Nallur kovil in Jaffna, about 400 kilometers (249 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka. September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte