Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

How low-income countries are closing their gender gap

Arwen Armbrecht
Writer and social media producer, Freelance
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Gender Inequality

Less developed nations have been making impressive strides towards achieving gender parity. Four out of the five lowest-earning nations have made their way into the top 50 most gender equal countries, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2015, with Rwanda figuring in the global top 10.

While not all low-income countries have seen such giant leaps of progress (changes in Mozambique and Tanzania, for example, have come about more gradually) success stories such as Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Uganda are a happy signal that equality can be achieved the world over.

This chart shows how low-income countries have performed in terms of gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s report.


Rwanda (6) remains the standard bearer from which other nations in similar economic conditions can learn. It performed well on the report’s Political Empowerment sub-index (seventh). Rwanda’s parliament has more female members than anywhere else in the world and it is only one of two countries with more women than men in their lower/single house. Equally impressive, when it comes to how much men and women are paid for doing the same job, Rwanda is the country with the best wage equality. It has also closed its gender gap in labour-force participation and enrolment in primary education.

Burundi (23) ranked in the top five in economic participation and opportunity, and also has a strong female representation in government. The country is one of four that has closed its gender gap when it comes to labour participation.

Mozambique (27) remained in the same position as last year, but it has made improvements. It, too, is one of four countries to close the gender gap in labour-force participation.

Tanzania (49) moved two places down from last year, but this was due to the success of other nations, rather than its own failures. In fact, compared with last year, it has slightly improved its performance in educational attainment, health and economic participation and opportunity.

Zimbabwe (57) climbed six places. The country has experienced more equality in educational attainment with particular improvements in literacy and the number of children in secondary and tertiary education. In respect to enrolment in primary education, Zimbabwe has entirely closed its gender gap. The country is one of only eight countries in the region to have closed the gender gap in health and survival.

Uganda (58) made an enormous leap forward, gaining 30 places between 2014 and 2015. The result was in large part due to its improvement in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment and health. Uganda is also among the top 10 performers for labour force participation.

Watch this video to find out where we are with gender equality in the world.

Have you read?
Why closing Africa’s gender gap is good for everyone
These are the 10 most gender equal countries in the world
How old will you be when the gender gap is closed?

Author: Donald Armbrecht is a freelance writer and social media producer.

Image: A voter casts her ballot during Rwanda’s presidential election, in Kigali. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly

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Related topics:
Equity, Diversity and InclusionEconomic Growth
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