Mideast gender-parity progress slows, claims WEF report

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The rate of achieving gender equality has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but the pace of progress has slowed, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Gap Report.

The report found that the overall gender gap has closed by 0.3 percentage points compared to last year. It is expected that parity would only be achieved in the year 2154, the same forecast made by the WEF in its 2022 report.

The progress was partly due to improved education, with 117 out of 146 indexed countries now having closed at least 95 percent of the gap.

The economic participation and opportunity gap has closed by 60.1 percent; however, the political empowerment gap closed by a mere 22.1 percent.

“While there have been encouraging signs of recovery to pre-pandemic levels, women continue to bear the brunt of the current cost-of-living crisis and labor market disruptions,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum.

She added: “An economic rebound requires the full power of creativity and diverse ideas and skills. We cannot afford to lose momentum on women’s economic participation and opportunity.”

Iceland remains the most gender-equal country for the 14th consecutive year, followed by Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden.

The Middle East and North Africa region remains the furthest from parity, with 62.6 percent of the gender gap closed representing a 0.9 percent point decline in parity since the last WEF report.

The UAE (71.2 percent), Israel (70 percent) and Bahrain (66.6 percent) have achieved the highest parity in the region, while five countries, led by Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, have increased their parity by 0.5 percent or more.

The UAE’s economic participation and opportunity score has improved from last year, with 53 percent of the gender gap closed.

Saudi Arabia has 52 percent of the global gender gap closed and has improved substantially in educational attainment for women and girls.

The Global Gender Gap Report, now in its 17th edition, benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.

It is the longest-standing index that tracks progress on closing these gaps since its inception in 2006.

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