The World Economic Forum's new Gender Gap Report has been released and this time it comes with an interactive map demonstrating how the world really treats women. Because it's one thing to talk about women's rights, resources, and opportunities (or lack thereof), but it's another thing to see everything all nicely laid out. Or, nicely if you happen to live in a Scandinavian country.
Overall, the news is not super great. For instance, there is no country on Earth where women earn as much as men. So that's depressing. But the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, have managed to close 80 percent of the gap, and accordingly are ranked as the top five countries on the Gender Gap Index.
The United States, meanwhile, has managed to work its way back into the top 20 again, after ranking 23rd last year and 22nd the year before. So that's good. Though it's worth noting that we are still being beaten by, among others, Nicaragua, Ireland, Rwanda, Australia, South Africa, and the Philippines.
The United States ranks particularly poorly when it comes to women's political empowerment, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with American politics. After all, at our current rate of progress, it will take 500 years for women to make up half of the elected officials in the US. So really, it's no wonder we rank where we do.
Overall, the map is a fascinating way to explore the gender gap, letting you hover over a country to see its rank, and click on it to see its performance in various categories. It leads to fascinating observations like the fact that India ranks higher in women's political empowerment than the US, the UK, or Australia. And it's interesting to see that years of living under the communism, which is supposedly in favor of gender equality, hasn't managed to close the gender gap in countries like China.
And for all the talk about Islam somehow being inherently bad for women, one of the highest ranking countries for women's education is The United Arab Emirates, which outpaces even Sweden.
And that's even before looking at how countries' ranking change year to year. Why has Israel's ranking been getting steadily worse for the past eight years? What happened to Bulgaria in 2010? Why did China make a sudden leap forward this year? All very good questions.
At the end of the day, the gender gap is a global problem, one that no country has managed to solve yet. Each country has their own issues with the treatment of women, and each country needs to find their own way of addressing them. But hopefully, things only keep getting better from here. Because giving women the same rights and opportunities as men is not only a moral imperative, but something that's good for everyone.
Image: World Economic Forum