Education and Skills

Nicaragua, France and Iceland are set to be the first countries to close their gender gaps

Demonstrators attend a rally against the gender-based and sexual violence against women in Marseille, France, November 24, 2018. The placard reads "Women's unity". REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier - RC1319355010

Demonstrators attend a rally against the gender-based and sexual violence against women in Marseille, France, Image: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Johnny Wood
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Nicaragua, France and Iceland are on track to become the first three countries to eliminate their gender gap. Based on current rates of progress, these three nations will have gender parity by 2050.

Closing the gender gap means women can have the same expectations as men in the fields of health, education, work and political representation.

1. Nicaragua
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018, Nicaragua is forecast to fully close its gap within 16 years, provided the country’s gender inequalities continue to narrow at today’s rate. The Latin American nation – which rose one place to fifth in this year’s index – has already eliminated 80% of recorded disparities between the sexes and is proceeding faster than any other country.

However, it’s important to note that progress may slow or stall as nations work through the easier gains and then face the hard work of creating truly gender-equal societies. For example, Nicaragua has the highest proportion of women in parliament of any country, but increasing female participation rates from 0 to 10% is comparatively easier than moving from 40 to 50%.

Political Empowerment is one of four key weighted measures that the report uses to determine a country’s gender gap. Nations are also assessed on inequalities in Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment and Health and Survival.

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Nicaragua’s rapid strides towards gender equality have led to the nation ranking second among the 149 countries in the index for Political Empowerment, and equal first in the Health and Survival sub-index.

2. France

France is set to reach gender parity in just under 22 years – six years later than Nicaragua – having made significant progress since the last report.

As well as jointly leading the Educational Attainment sub-index, France has increased the number of women taking parliamentary seats and decreased disparities between men’s and women’s wage rates.

Legislators recently enforced tough new rules banning street harassment in a bid to stamp out sexist, degrading or intimidating comments and behaviour on French streets.

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3. Iceland
While Iceland tops the overall index, a position it has held for a decade, it is forecast to take two years longer than France to close its gender gap.

The Nordic island nation records the lowest inequalities between the sexes of any country, having resolved 85% of its gender divide.

Iceland remains one of the most rapidly improving nations in the index. As well as leading the way in Political Empowerment (despite the share of women in parliament falling recently), wage disparities between the sexes are lower than in other countries.

Other fast improvers

Three other nations are also on track to close their gender gaps by 2050. If current trends hold, Slovakia is forecast to reach gender parity in 24.7 years, Namibia in 25.7 years and Bolivia a few years after that.

While there is still work to be done to reduce gender inequality around the globe, these countries are making great strides in the right direction.

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Related topics:
Education and SkillsEquity, Diversity and InclusionEconomic GrowthGeo-Economics and Politics
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