China has fallen in a global ranking for gender equality for a ninth year in a row, coming in at 100 among 144 countries despite decades of economic advances, according to an worldwide study.
Asia's largest economies have fallen in the World Economic Forum's latest gender equality ranking, a sign that while the region has become a key engine of the global economy, it is still playing catch-up in terms of providing equal opportunities between the sexes.
A decade of slow progress towards better parity between the sexes has screeched to a halt, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Thursday, warning the global gender gap was now widening.
South Africa dropped four places to 19th overall, making it the third most gender equal country in sub-Saharan Africa after Rwanda which came fourth globally and and Namibia which placed 16th.
WEF said Switzerland's 10-place drop was due to a widening gender gap on the Political Empowerment subindex.
"The country also reopens a health and survival gender gap for the first time since 2006, although the educational attainment gender gap remains fully closed", it added. This retreat backwards means that, at the current rate of progress, the global gender gap would take 100 years to disappear entirely, compared to 83 last year.
So American women may want to cross the border into Canada, which ranked 16th this year, up drastically from 35th place in 2016.
In general, companies around the world fail to offer a level playing field for women, the Gender Gap Index showed.
On average, the 144 states covered in the report have closed 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes between women and men, unchanged since last year, and more than 95 per cent of the gap in educational attainment, a slight decrease on last year. The next two countries in the Index, Nicaragua (6) and Slovenia (7), also achieve symbolic milestones this year closing 80 percent of their gaps for the first time. As for the economic gender gap, it would take 217 years to narrow, compared with 170 last year. Only six countries have closed the gap in both of these pillars.
A comparison of the scores of the top 10 ranking countries from 2016 to 2017 suggest the world is improving its gender equality issues faster than India.
About 23 per cent of the political gap has been closed, which is unchanged since past year against a long-term trend of slow but steady improvement.
Political empowerment has the widest gender gap with only Iceland having closed more than 70 percent of the gap.
The picture is not all bleak: the march towards gender equality in education could reach the finish line within a mere 13 years, it said.