Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Norway tops gender equality list

Norway's women handball team
Norway has done the most to close the gender gap, says the WEF

Norway has topped a league of countries in closing the gender gap, followed by three other Nordic nations, a survey by the World Economic Forum says.

Progress in political, education and economic spheres has occurred globally but the gap in health has widened.

The UK fell in the ranking while France rose helped by women's political role.

The forum said more women at the top of financial institutions and government and was "vital" to finding solutions to the economic turmoil.

"Greater representation of women in senior leadership positions within governments and financial institutions is vital not only to find solutions to the current economic turmoil but to stave off such crises in future," said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the forum.

'Correlation'

GENDER GAP INDEX - TOP
1, Norway
2, Finland
3, Sweden
4, Iceland
5, New Zealand
Source: World Economic Forum

Norway rose from third to first place and scored 82.45% in the table of 130 countries, denoting the percentage of the gap between women and men that has been closed to date.

Finland, Sweden and Iceland came second, third and fourth respectively.

Last year, Sweden came top of the index.

The UK came 13th and slipped from 11th place last year while France was among those countries whose ranking rose sharply, from 51st to 15th place helped by gains in economic participation and political empowerment.

Syria, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia all fell in the ranking and showed a drop in overall scores.

Progress in closing the gap is not only "possible" but can be achieved in a relatively short space of time said the forum.

The index surveyed economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.

GENDER GAP INDEX - BOTTOM
126, Benin
127, Pakistan
128, Saudi Arabia
129, Chad
130, Yemen
Source: World Economic Forum

The report provides some evidence on the link between the gender gap and the economic performance of countries.

"Our work shows a strong correlation between competitiveness and the gender gap scores".

"While this does not imply causality, the possible theoretical underpinnings of this link are clear: countries that do not fully capitalize effectively on one-half of their human resources run the risk of undermining their competitive potential".

The survey stems from a collaboration of individuals of Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley and the World Economic Forum.



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