Well, unless you live in Iceland. The World Economic Forum (WEF) released its 2009 report on the Global Gender Gap last week, and Iceland is at the top of the list. The country has the highest gender equality index of 134 countries analyzed. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation, the WEF’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2009 determined each country’s rank by “examining how that country has reduced gender gaps in educational attainment, health and survival, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment.”
The US ranked 31st, four places down from last year. Melanne Verveer, the United State’s first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, said at the report’s launch, “Obviously I think every country wants to do better. It’s worth pointing out that no country has equality between men and women, so we have a long road to go no matter where we live.”
So there you go. It is 2009 and nowhere in the world has gender equality actually been achieved. What is important to point out, and often overlooked when reports like this come out, is the violence against women aspect.
It is common to have Scandinavian countries top the WEF’s annual list. The interesting thing is that as these countries get higher in rankings, violence against women also increases. Sweden is an excellent example- great national feminist policies towards women, mainstream feminist political parties, but domestic violence is off the charts. It’s an interesting social aspect which we find often goes hand in hand with women’s economic progress.
Watch Saadia Zahidi, Director of Women Leaders and Gender at the World Economic Forum, speak with Bloomberg’s Margaret Brennan. Although the violence against women point is not brought up, you can watch Zahidi speak about other aspects of the report and its key finding: Around the world, the wage gap still remains wide.
We have our work cut out for us.