Your Source for Feminist Discourse

Global Gender Gap Report: What it Means For Women, The U.S. and Politics

The other day on Twitter Citi posted “The Top 25 Best Countries To Be A Woman,” as described in the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report. I clicked through the slideshow and found that the United States landed at spot number 23. While I am at happy and grateful to be a living in a country that at least makes the top 25…we pretty much barely make the cut. Not only are we at the tail end of this list, we fell from spot 22 in 2012. This just seems unacceptable since the United States is a huge player in the global sphere.

Here’s the list if you’re curious:

1. Iceland (for the fifth year in a row!)
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Philippines
6. Ireland
7. New Zealand
8. Denmark
9. Switzerland
10. Nicaragua
11. Belgium
12. Latvia
13. Netherlands
14. Germany
15. Cuba
16. Lesotho
17. South Africa
18. United Kingdom
19. Austria
20. Canada
21. Luxembourg
22. Burundi
23. United States
24. Australia
25. Ecuador

My first thought was that with countries like Germany, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa closing the gender gap and embracing equality the United States should be pushed to improve our score. Also, it’s important to notice that better economy does not necessarily mean better gender equality. Lesotho, Burundi, and Nicaragua scored better than the U.S.

My next thought was to go read some of the information in the actual report and what I saw gave me hope for the future, yet also deeply upset me.

“On average, in 2013, over 96% of the gap in health outcomes, 93% of the gap in educational attainment, 60% of the gap in economic participation and 21% of the gap in political empowerment has been closed. No country in the world has achieved gender equality. The four highest ranked countries—Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden—have closed between 81% and 87% of their gender gaps, while the lowest ranked country—Yemen—has closed a little over half of its gender gap.”

So women are making great strides in health (meaning living longer, healthier lives) and educational attainment. This is exciting news! We as women should celebrate this accomplishment and use it as motivation and proof that these gaps can be closed. The upsetting part is that only 60% of the gap in economic participation (this includes employment!) was closed and a mere 21% of the gap in political empowerment has been closed.

As a woman, this is so powerful because it shows the facts. I hear comments all too often from people who I honestly believe don’t feel like admitting that these issues exist. It’s much easier to pretend that there is no issue because no issue means no action has to be taken. This report states the facts…loudly.

According to the unwomen.org article “Progress for Women in Politics, But Glass Ceiling Remains Firm:”

“In executive government, the percentage of women in ministerial posts has now reached 17.2 per cent, up from 16.1 per cent in 2008

While technically this is progress….this is really scary. Women aren’t being properly represented in the political sphere and while progress is being attained in other areas, women in politics have only increased by 1.1% in five years.

While we should definitely be pushed to increase our score, we should also make use of our spot in the top 25 and serve as a role model for gender equality worldwide. How do you think we as women (other than voting) can help pressure our leaders to address the  economic participation and political empowerment gender gaps?

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