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Gender equality worldwide - statistics & facts

Gender equality has different understandings, definitions, and priorities all over the globe. At the most general level, gender equality refers to equal rights and opportunities for both women and men across different dimensions. It can be discussed as something abstract – like distribution of power and influence as well as something specific like working conditions and domestic work.

When measuring gender equality, several parameters are often taken into consideration. Perhaps the most known indicator of gender equality worldwide is the Global Gender Gap Index. Each year, the index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education, and health-based criteria based on 14 indicators in these categories. Iceland enjoys the smallest overall gender gap, according to the 2020 index, followed by other Nordic countries like Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Conversely, gender parity in Yemen, Iraq, and Pakistan are deemed the most challenged. Another relevant indicator of global gender equality is the Gender Inequality Index. This index measures inequality in achievement between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market. In 2020, Switzerland topped the ranking, while once again Yemen was considered the least gender equal country in the world.

In a macro-regional perspective, the Middle East and North Africa has the longest way to go before closing the gender gap, with only around 60 percent closed as of 2020. Western Europe, on the other hand, has made the most progress towards gender parity, having closed more than 75 percent of the gender gap. At the same time, however, it is estimated that gender parity will not be achieved in Western Europe for another 54 years. While this is many years from now, gender equal societies in several other regions of the world are not expected for another 150 years.

These long-term prospects indicate just how lengthy and complicated the road towards gender equity can be. As a matter of fact, it is often argued that gender equality has stagnated – either in some parts of the world or across specific dimensions. For example, progress in reducing the number of out-of-school children has stagnated over the past decade, and a higher number of girls than boys are not in primary school worldwide today. However, the global gender gap considering educational attainment as well as health and survival were considered closed as of 2020, while economic and political disparities currently pose the most serious challenges towards gender equality.

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