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Nordic countries stay top of equality ratings

Four Nordic countries were again at the forefront of equality between the sexes in 2007 holding their 2006 lead, according to the latest gender gap survey released Thursday by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Sweden took first place followed by Norway, Finland and Iceland. The Gender Gap Index, carried out by the Geneva-based economic think-tank looked at economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, education attainment and health aspects. It measured how far the gap between men and women had been closed in these areas. New Zealand came fifth, after moving up two places to swap with Germany who fell to seventh behind the Philippines. Denmark, Ireland and Spain completed the top ten with Britain in 11th place. The US slipped six places to 31, improving on political empowerment but seeing a bigger gap on economic participation.

The report noted that Latvia (13) and Lithuania (14) made the biggest advances among countries in the top 20, gaining six and seven places respectively. France (51) was up 19 places after new data revealed the proportion of women among professionals and legislators had increased. In the bottom half of the rankings, countries such as Tunisia (102), Turkey (121), and Morocco (122) not only fell in the table but saw a deterioration relative to their own performances in 2006.

WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report tracked how disparities evolved over time. “As policy-makers and business leaders seek to address talent shortages, there is increasing urgency to close gender gaps and leverage the talents of both women and men,” he said, adding the Forum placed importance on the need to address this challenge. (full report)