UK falls six places in gender equality rankings

Country has fallen from 15th most equal nation in last audit in 2018 to 21st this time. 

The UK has fallen six places down the global rankings for gender equality. Despite successive prime ministers pledging to take decisive action to tackle the gender imbalances in politics and wider British society, the UK has dropped from the 15th most equal nation in world to 21st.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) said Albania, Canada, Costa Rica, Latvia, Switzerland, South Africa and Spain had all leapfrogged the UK in closing the gender gap across politics, economics, health and education since the last audit in 2018.

The WEF, which organises the annual meeting of politician and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, said so little progress had been made in tackling the problem that it would take 100 years to close the global gender gap.

“This year’s report highlights the growing urgency for action,” said Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF. “Without the equal inclusion of half of the world’s talent, we will not be able to deliver on the promise of the fourth industrial revolution for all of society, grow our economies for greater shared prosperity or achieve the UN sustainable development goals.

“At the present rate of change, it will take nearly a century to achieve parity, a timeline we simply cannot accept in today’s globalised world, especially among younger generations who hold increasingly progressive views of gender equality.”

The WEF said even the 100-year timeline would be achieved only if countries continued to make progress in tackling gender inequalities. “At the slow speed experienced over the period 2006–2020, it will take 257 years to close this gap,” it said.

Iceland is ranked as the nation closest to achieving gender parity, having closed 88% of its gender gap, followed by Norway (84.2%), Finland (83.2%) and Sweden (82%).

The UK scored 76.7%, a slight fall compared with 2018. Most other industrialised western nations improved their performance. Spain jumped from 29th place to 8th.

The WEF said the UK performed poorly because women were sparsely represented in politics – although last week a record 220 women were elected to parliament – and men on average were paid a lot more than women.

“[The] UK’s economic gender gap comes in at 58th worldwide, brought down by big gaps in the estimated earned income of women compared to men (it ranks 102 here) as well as straightforward wage inequality (76th),” the WEF said.

The Global Gender Gap report 2020 said the gender wage gap in the UK was 16%, comparedwith 7% in Sweden and Norway. In the UK, more than three times the number of women are in part-time roles comparedwith men.

It said there were also “massive inequalities in almost all of [the UK’s] fastest-growing job clusters of the future”, including cloud computing, engineering and artificial intelligence.

The UK also does poorly for primary school enrolment, ranking 88th out of the 153 countries in the table. This is a measure of the proportion of primary school age children enrolled at school.

Source – Written by Rupert Neate, as featured in The Guardian –



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