CAI U. ORDINARIO
DESPITE the country’s problems with high maternal mortality ratio, the World Economic Forum (WEF) cited women’s health and education as the major contributors to the exemplary performance of the Philippines in the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index, where it ranked No. 8 out of 135 economies worldwide.
The WEF said the Philippines remained the highest-ranking Asian country because of its success in health and education. This is also the reason the country improved its performance to an overall score to 0.7685 in the 2011 Gender Gap Index from its No. 9 rank and a score of 0.7654 in 2010.
“Gender gaps close when countries recognize the economic and social imperatives. With the right policies, change can happen very quickly,” Laura Tyson, one of the co-authors of the report, said. Tyson is the Angela Chan Professor of Global Management at the Haas School of Business of the University of California at Berkeley.
The Philippines ranked first out of 135 countries in the categories of literacy rate, enrollment in primary education, enrollment in secondary education and enrollment in tertiary education. It also bested all countries in terms of sex ratio at birth and healthy life expectancy.
It also ranked first in other categories like legislators, senior officials and managers, as well as in professional and technical workers, which are under the “economic participation and opportunity” subindex.
However, this subindex also saw the country’s performance plummeting in the category of women’s labor-force participation rate, where the country was ranked 94th overall.
The Philippines also ranked poorly in the categories of women in ministerial positions, where it was No. 71; estimated earned income, No. 60; women in parliament, No. 43; and wage equality for similar work, No. 23.
In terms of sub-indices, the country was ranked No. 15 for “economic participation and opportunity”and No. 16 for “political empowerment.”
The WEF noted in a statement that the international scores for health and education are encouraging with 96 percent of the health gaps and 93 percent of the education gaps already closed. Around the world, economic and political participation continues to show the largest gaps.
“Female healthy life expectancy and literacy levels remain alarmingly low across many parts of Africa and Asia. In Latin America, women have more schooling than men but marriage and motherhood are still not compatible with a fuller economic and political participation of women. We’ve come a long way but there is still a long road ahead of us,” report co-author Ricardo Hausmann said. Hausmann is the director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University.
The Global Gender Gap Report’s index assesses 135 countries, representing more than 93 percent of the world’s population, on how well resources and opportunities are divided among male and female populations.
The sixth annual World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2011 shows a slight decline over the last year in gender equality rankings for New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom this year, while gains are made in Brazil, Ethiopia, Qatar, Tanzania and Turkey.
Nordic countries such as Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden continue to hold on to the top spots, having closed over 80 percent of their gender gaps, while countries at the bottom of the rankings still need to close as much as 50 percent.
The index scores can be interpreted as the percentage of the gap that has been closed between women and men. Of these, 114 have been covered since the first edition of the report. Thirteen of the 14 variables used to create the index are from publicly available hard-data indicators from international organizations such as the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Development Program and the World Health Organization.