The achievements made by women all over the world towards
equity in education are still very far from making an impact on their
having a fair share in the economy or in political power. This can be
concluded from the updated figures of the Gender Equity Index (GEI) 2012,
published by Social Watch on the eve of Women’s International Day, March 8.
None of the 154 countries considered in the study has narrowed the gender
gap to an “acceptable” level.
The GEI prepared annually by Social Watch measures the gap
between women and men in education, economy and political empowerment. The
index is an average of the inequalities in the three dimensions. In
literacy, it examines the gender gap in enrolment at all levels; economic
participation computes the gaps in income and employment; empowerment
measures the gaps in highly qualified jobs, parliament and senior executive
The GEI 2012 has computed a world value for education of 71
(or “low”, according to the index categories), while for economic
participation computed 42 (“very low”) and for political empowerment a
meagre 17 (“critical”).
Women’s participation in the labour force is significantly
less compared to men. They have substantially lower salaries for the same
type of work and a higher percentage of women are employed in vulnerable or
irregular jobs. But more importantly, as the index shows, the
underachievement in economic participation and empowerment for women is
verified in each of the 154 countries studied in the 2012 issue of the
Social Watch measures the gap between women and men, not
their wellbeing. Thus, a country in which young men and women have equal
access to the university receives a value of 100 on this particular
indicator. In the same fashion, a country in which boys and girls are
equally barred from completing primary education would also be awarded a
value of 100. This does not mean that the quality of education in both
cases is the same. It just establishes that, in both cases girls are not
less educated than boys.
Through this procedure, the GEI 2012 makes also clear that the lack of equity cannot
be justified by a lack of resources: the GEI mapping and that of each of
its components show that, regardless of income levels,
each country can reduce gender disparity through adequate policies.
Countries such as Mongolia (81), Rwanda (77), The Philippines (76) and Nicaragua (74) have reached relatively high levels of gender
equity, even when many women and men live in poverty. On the other hand,
countries with an elevated income, such as Japan (57 GEI points), Turkey and Saudi Arabia (37 GEI points) present huge gaps between men and
women. The GEI 2012 stresses that these figures show that equality in the
structure of opportunities in a society is a goal that must and can be
pursued regardless of economic power.
The five levels according to which the index measures the
gender gap are: “critical”, “very low”, “low”, “medium” and “acceptable”.
No country in the world has reached GEI 90 points or more, meaning that no
country has yet reached the acceptable level.
When considering the gender gap in terms of regions, the
index finds that Europe and North America, both with an average GEI of 73 points (“low”), are
heading the chart. The index stresses, however, that not all of the
European countries are doing well in closing their gender gap. Albania (55) and Turkey (45), for example, score below the global average,
which is 57 (“very low”).
The East Asia and Pacific (69), Latin America and the
Caribbean (68) and Central Asia (63) are also in the “low” level. Sub-Saharan Africa
(52) and the Middle East and North Africa (43) are both in the “very low”
category, and both below the global average, while South Asia is at the very bottom of the chart with 39 points (“critical”).
Out of the 154 countries computed, those achieving a better
score are Norway (89), Finland (88) Iceland, Sweden (both with 87), Denmark (84), New Zealand (82), and Mongolia and Spain (both with 81), all of them with a “medium” GEI.
The five counties in the worst global situation are the Republic of Congo (29), Niger (26), Chad (25), Yemen (24) and Afghanistan (15), all of them with “critical” GEI.
Social Watch members are spread
across all regions. The network fights for the
eradication of poverty and its causes, the elimination of all
forms of discrimination and racism and to ensure an
equitable distribution of wealth and the realization of