The UK is Way Behind in Gender Gap Report

Despite the news that London is the greatest megacity for women, the UK as a whole is nowhere near on par. In its latest gender gap report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed that the UK is trailing far behind a slew of countries in regards to female education, economic participation and health care.

Having examined 144 countries, the WEF found that the UK fell into 15th place, behind the EU powerhouses of France and Germany. This is an improvement on 2016, when it sat in 20th place, though it is still a poor performance by most expectations.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation to come from the report is that the UK ranked 53rd in the world for female ‘economic participation’. The driving factor behind this is the amount of unpaid work undertaken by women (57%) compared to men (32%).

Although this is compounded by the fact that a woman’s average monthly earnings is just 66% of a man’s in the UK, placing the country 95th out of 144.

Education & Health Care

Though the UK’s education system is world renowned, the WEF ranked the country 36th overall. When it came to enrolment in primary education, the UK sits at an appalling 70th place. This may come as a surprise, seeing as children must attend primary school by law, but the report discovered that male enrolment was higher than female, which begs further investigation.

In the category of ‘health care and survival’ the UK came in 100th. However, the Independent claims this is due women having a healthy life expectancy of 72.5 years – two years more than men.

Beyond the UK

Most disappointingly the WEF report has shown a clear lack of progress across the globe in 2017. Whilst there has been a slow, but albeit steady advancement towards closing the gender gap, progress has stalled this year. And looking at the current rate of progress the WEF has stated that it will take 100 years to close the gap.

That’s up 83 years on the estimate in 2016.

For the 9th year running Iceland topped the index as the world’s most equal country. Second and third place went to Norway and Finland respectively, though they did drop, increasing the gap to first.

The top ten was completed by Rwanda, Sweden, Nicaragua, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Western Europe was the region that demonstrated the highest levels of equality, with 9 countries improving their ranking and 11 falling behind.

North Africa and the Middle East were the poorest performing regions. Israel was the highest performing, coming in 44th overall, this was then followed by Tunisia in 117th and the UAE in 120th.

The score was brought down in a big way by a lack of political empowerment in countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and Yemen.


Speaking on the results, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, said, “we are moving from the era of capitalism into the era of talentism.

“Competitiveness on a national and on a business level will be decided more than ever before by the innovative capacity of a country or a company.

“Those will succeed best, who understand to integrate women as an important force into their talent pool.”

Talking about the UK’s pay gap, Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society added, “the fact that the global gender equality gap is getting wider not narrower should sound alarm bells for all of us.

“The monthly earnings gap in the UK is so wide because our economy is heavily dependent on low paid, part-time work. Jobs which are still dominated by women.”

“We need better quality part-time jobs. All jobs should be flexible by default unless there is a good business reason for them not to be.”

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