Top 10 in reducing the gender gap | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Top 10 in reducing the gender gap

/ 12:28 AM April 25, 2015

The Philippines figures very prominently in the Global Gender Gap Report 2014, issued last October by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which says (page 26):

“[The] Philippines (9) [its rank among 142 countries] is for the first time the only country from the region [Asia and the Pacific] that is in the top ten best performing countries on the overall index. The country is also the second best performing country of the lower-middle income group. It ranks 24th on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex and 17th on the Political Empowerment subindex. It is the only country from the region that has closed both the Educational Attainment and Health and Survival gender gaps. The country is part of the top ten of the Wage equality for similar work and Legislators, senior officials and managers indicators. The country was led by a female head of state for 16 of the last 50 years. Since 2008, it has seen an improvement in its overall score—except in 2014, which was due to a decrease in the Health and Survival and Political Empowerment subindex scores. The Philippines has experienced a 4% change relative to its 2006 overall score. This is mainly due to improvements on the Economic Participation and Opportunity and Political Empowerment subindexes (the latter improved by 37% since 2006). The Philippines is the second best country (just after Norway) on the Ability of women to rise in positions of enterprise indicator, and the country with the highest percentage of firms with female participation in ownership (69%).”

With a Global Gender Gap Index of 0.781—the closer it is to 1.000, the more equal are women to men, so it literally measures equality, rather than inequality—the Philippines is 9th among the 142 countries in the 2014 report. The top-ranked country is Iceland (0.859) and the bottom-ranked country is Yemen (0.514).

Best in Southeast Asia. One may also say that the gender gap presently goes from as low as 14.1 percent in Iceland to as high as 48.6 percent in Yemen, and that it is 21.9 percent in the Philippines. By far, the Philippines has the lowest gender gap, or is the most gender-equal, in Southeast Asia.


Singapore’s 0.705, Lao PDR’s 0.704 and Thailand’s 0.703 rank them as 59th, 60th and 61st, respectively, at most 11 points above the median of 71st place (which is the 0.694 of Brazil). Vietnam’s 0.692 puts it as 76th. Below the median are Indonesia (0.6725) and Brunei Darussalam (0.6719), at 97th and 98th. Malaysia and Cambodia, both 0.652 or 22 points below the median, share 107th and 108th. Burma (Myanmar) and Timor Leste are not in the report.

The other countries are so spread out that Southeast Asia as a whole—with the notable exception of the Philippines, which is 87 points above the median—is no better at gender-equality than other regions of the world.

Second most-improved in Southeast Asia. By moving from 0.752 in 2006 to 0.781 in 2014 (though it was already 0.783 in 2013), the Philippine index improved by 4.0 percent. This was second to Singapore’s rise from 0.650 to 0.705, an improvement of 7.6 percent. At these rates, it will still take some time for Singapore to catch up with the Philippines.

Other Southeast Asian countries already indexed in 2006 improved by less: Cambodia, 3.6 percent; Thailand, 2.9 percent; Indonesia, 2.8 percent; and Malaysia, 0.2 percent.


Components of the gender gap index.   The overall country index is a simple average of subindexes in four dimensions: Educational Attainment; Health and Survival; Economic Participation and Opportunity; and Political Empowerment. In education and health, women happen to have surpassed men already, and so the Philippine subindex is a perfect 1, sharing rank 1 in the world. (The index is strictly about equality; it gets no extra points for overattainment by women.)

In the economic dimension, the Philippine subindex is 0.778, ranking 24th in the world. Women exceed men in professional and technical positions, are close to parity among legislators, senior officials and managers, and perceive near-equality in pay for equal work. But their estimated earnings are only 68 percent that of men, or 44th in the world.


In the empowerment dimension, the Philippine subindex is 0.368, or 17th in the world. The Philippines ranks 41st for women in Congress, 72nd (the median) for women in ministerial positions, and 5th for women heading government in 16 of the last 50 years—i.e., the presidencies of Cory Aquino, for six and a half years, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), for nine and a half years.

The relative impact of Cory and GMA on the country is a different matter. Cory restored democracy from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, and preserved it though several serious military coup attempts. On the other hand, GMA’s performance as president consistently elicited great public dissatisfaction almost from the very beginning, and certainly up to the very end. The gender gap index on empowerment only shows how much opportunity women have had relative to men. It is silent on how well they have used the opportunity.

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The Global Gender Gap Report has been published annually since 2006 by the WEF, the Swiss-based international NGO that publishes the World Competitiveness Report. The 2014 gender gap report is coauthored by Richard Hausman of Harvard University, Laura D. Tyson of the University of California at Berkeley, and Yasmina Bekhouche and Saadia Zahidi of the WEF.

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TAGS: gender gap, Global Gender Gap Report, World Economic Forum

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