Latin America and the Caribbean is the region that has made the most progress at closing the gender gap over the last ten years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Reports 2015.
The report ranks 145 countries on their ability to tackle the gender gap and ensure women are not held back in four key areas: health and survival, education, politics and economic equality.
1. Nicaragua (12th in global ranking) remains the best performer of the region for the fourth year in a row despite dropping six places from 2014 to 2015. It has closed the gender gap fully for educational attainment and health and survival. Furthermore, it is the highest-ranking country of the region and fourth in the world for political empowerment, with more than 50% of the gender gap now closed. Since 2006, the country is the world’s most improved on the overall index, the second most improved of the region, and third most improved of the world for political empowerment.
2. Bolivia (22) moves up 36 places from last year, making it the second best performer of the region, with nearly 75% of the gender gap now closed. This is mostly due to an increase on the political empowerment score, resulting from a doubling of women in parliament (from 25% to 53%). The country is now the second highest ranked country in the region on the political empowerment subindex, with 42% of the gender gap now closed. On the health and survival subindex it has fully closed its gender gap, but on educational attainment it is the region’s second worst performer. Since 2006, the country has been the world’s most improved country on political empowerment and second most improved on the overall index. It is also the second most improved of the region on the health and survival subindex.
3. Barbados (24) moves up nine places from last year, overtaking Cuba, Ecuador and Argentina on the regional rankings. This is mostly due to an increase in economic participation and opportunity, resulting from a rise in the number of female legislators, senior officials and managers as well as professional and technical workers. It is now the best performing country of the region and second in the world on this subindex. It has also fully closed its health and survival gender gap. Within the region, it scores above average on all subindexes except political empowerment.
4. Cuba (29) moves up one spot from last year. This is partly due to an increase in the number of women in ministerial positions (from 23% to 31%). It has nearly closed the gender gap for education and ranks third in the region on political empowerment, with 40% of the gender gap now closed.
5. Ecuador (33) has regressed since last year, dropping 12 places in rank. This is partly due to a slight decrease in the female-to-male ratio of estimated earned income. In health and survival, it has fully closed the gender gap. When compared to 2006, it is the second most improved country in the region and the fourth most improved of the world for economic participation and opportunity.
6. Argentina (35) has slightly progressed since last year despite dropping four places in rank. This is due to a slight increase on the political empowerment subindex, resulting from more women in ministerial positions and an additional year with a female head of state. It has fully closed its gender gap for health and survival. Since 2006 it has improved across all four areas except educational attainment, where there has been no change in score.
7. Costa Rica (38) has improved over last year and moves up 10 places with 73% of the gender gap now closed. This is due to a near doubling of women in ministerial positions (from 25% to 41%). It has also fully closed its gender gap on educational attainment, but ranks among the bottom three in the region on health and survival. Since 2006, it has improved in all subindexes except health and survival, where it has slightly regressed
8. Bahamas (40) drops five places since last year but slightly increased its score. It has closed the gender gap fully on the educational attainment and health and survival subindexes, and is the second best performing country in the region on economic participation and opportunity, with more than 82% of the gender gap now closed.
9. Colombia (42) has progressed compared to last year, moving up 11 places in rank. This is due to improvements in wage equality for similar work and estimated earned income. It is now the third best performing country in the region for economic participation and opportunity, with more than 74% of the gender gap now closed. Since 2006, it has made almost no improvement on health and survival, and on political empowerment, while it has actually regressed on educational attainment.
10. Panama (44) made slight progress over last year, with more women in parliament. Panama has also fully closed the gender gap on health and survival in 2015. In fact, since 2006, it has progressed on all subindexes except educational attainment, where it regressed.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2015 is available here.
Author: Paulina Padilla Ugarte, Specialist, Employment and Gender Initiatives, Gender Parity Programme, World Economic Forum
Image: A girl writes on a chalk board during the opening of the elementary school year in the old center of Managua