Nicaragua heads the regional rankings and is the only country from the Latin America and the Caribbean area to place among the top ten overall rankings in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2014 Report, published today.

The report ranks 142 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.

The region has shown steady improvement over recent years and in terms of educational attainment it is almost on a par with North America and Europe and Central Asia, having closed over 99% of the gender gap.



Nicaragua (6 out of 142 countries) heads the regional rankings and moves up the overall rankings from tenth place in 2013 to sixth this year. It remains the only country from the Latin America and Caribbean region to make it into the top 10, where it has featured for three consecutive years.

Ecuador (21) is the country with the largest improvement inits economic participation score in the region over the last nine years. It has also made the most progress in getting more women into parliamentary roles.

Cuba (30) overall has closed 73% of its gender gap and has almost closed the educational and health and survival gender gap. The country is below average on women’s economic participation, and there are persistent gender gaps in estimated earned income.

Argentina (31) has shown progress on closing its gender gap over the last year and has more female legislators, senior officials and managers. It also registers the greatest improvement in the region in terms of numbers of female heads of state since 2006.

Barbados (33) slips in the rankings slightly compared to last year due mainly to a small decrease in perceived wage equality for similar work and a worsening male to female ratio in primary education enrolment.

The Bahamas (35) is among only eight countries globally that have fully closed the gender gap for both health and education. It is also ranked among the top five in the world for economic participation and opportunity.

Peru (45) shows a great improvement in the region and moves up into the top ten. Overall, it has shot up from a ranking of 80th in 2013 to 45th this year. Progress is due mainly to a narrowing gap in political empowerment.

Panama (46) climbs up the regional rankings from 10th place last year, but falls back in the overall rankings from 37th place last year.

Costa Rica (48) drops from sixth in the region last year and from 31st position overall in 2013, the second consecutive year Costa Rica’s rank has slipped.

Trinidad and Tobago (49), maintains its ranking in ninth place in the region and records the best absolute improvement in health and survival since last year.

Author: Pearl Samandari is a Manager of Gender Parity Programme at World Economic Forum.

Image: A woman walks on Havana’s seafront boulevard. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan