The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012 benchmarks national gender gaps of 135 countries on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria. The Global Gender Gap Index was developed in 2006, partially to address the need for a consistent and comprehensive measure of gender equality that can track a country’s progress over time. The index points to potential role models by revealing those countries that – within their region or income group – are leaders in dividing resources more equitably between women and men than other countries, regardless of the overall level of resources available.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2012 emphasizes persisting gender gap divides across and within regions. Based on the seven years of data available for the 111 countries that have been part of the report since its inception, it finds that the majority of countries covered have made slow progress on closing gender gaps.
This year’s findings show that Iceland tops the overall rankings in The Global Gender Gap Index for the fourth consecutive year. Finland ranks in second position, overtaking Norway (third). Sweden remains in fourth position. Northern European countries dominate the top 10 with Ireland in the fifth position, Denmark (seventh) and Switzerland (10th). New Zealand (sixth), Philippines (eighth) and Nicaragua (ninth) complete the top 10.
The index continues to track the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women.