According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2015, sub-Saharan Africa has closed 68% of its overall gender gap, showing a slight increase compared to 2014. Out of six regions measured, it ranks at the fourth position behind North America, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report ranks 145 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.

GGGR15 Africa Top 10

1. Rwanda (6th in the global ranking) gains one place on 2015. It is the strongest performing country from the region and the only one ranked in the global top 10. Its high ranking can be explained by its strong political empowerment performance and good rankings for economic participation and opportunity. These scores are slightly offset by wider gender gaps in health and survival, and education.

2. Namibia (16) climbs from 40th place in 2006 to 16th place in 2015 in the overall Index, the largest overall improvement in the region. The country has closed its literacy rate gender gap, and has improved on all four sub-indexes compared to 2006.

3. South Africa (17) is the third country in the region to make it into the global top 20, a presence it has maintained since 2006. Its gender gap on Health and Survival sub-index remains closed. On health and survival, the country has closed 98% of its health gender gap – a strong improvement since 2013.

4. Burundi (23) is one of four countries that has closed its gender gap in the labour participation indicator, but is among the 10 lowest-performing countries in regards to enrollment in both primary and tertiary education.

5. Mozambique (27) retains its ranking from last year despite a slight increase in its overall score. Like Burundi, it is one of four countries that has closed its labour force participation gender gap. It is among the 20 lowest-performing countries globally with regards to the literacy rate and enrollment in primary and tertiary education.

6. Kenya (48) drops eleven places, mostly due to a decrease in both the wage equality for similar work and women in ministerial positions.

7. Tanzania (49) drops two places from last year despite no changes to its overall score. It is the country with the biggest decrease overall in the economic pillar over the last 10 years.

8. Cape Verde (50) keeps its position this year despite a slight overall score increase. Cape Verde demonstrates a particularly strong health and survival performance. It ranks 25th on the Political Empowerment sub-index, as it has 53% of women in ministerial positions – the highest in the region.

9. Botswana (55) moves a few places down from last year. The country closed its educational attainment gap and continues to demonstrate a strong performance on the economic participation and opportunity sub-index. It has closed its literacy gender gap. Compared to 10 years ago, Botswana is the country that has made the region’s biggest improvement on the health and survival sub-index, as well as the largest decrease on the political empowerment sub-index.

10. Zimbabwe (57) climbs six places from 2014. This is mainly due to an increase in performance in the educational attainment sub-index; in particular, improvements in literacy rate and enrollment in secondary and tertiary education indicators (Zimbabwe has closed its gender gap on enrollment in primary education). It is one of eight countries in the region that has closed its health and survival gender gap.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2015 is available here.

Author: Vesselina Stefanova Ratcheva, Data Analyst, Human Capital and Gender Parity Initiatives, World Economic Forum

Image: Rwandan vendors wait to sell bundles of wood at a morning market in the capital Kigali REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly