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 The economic dimension is the next challenge

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Female Number of posts : 880
Registration date : 2008-01-06

PostSubject: The economic dimension is the next challenge   Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:17 pm

NEW YORK (March 5) – More than half the women in the world live
in countries that have made no progress towards gender equity in
recent years. That is one of the findings of the Gender Equity Index
(GEI) 2008 that Social Watch launched here as a contribution to the
52nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women that
will end next Saturday, March 8, the International Women’s Day.

The GEI, developed and calculated by Social Watch, ranks 157
countries in a scale where 100 would imply complete equality
between women and men in education, participation in the economy
and in decision-making bodies (empowerment). Yet the highest-
ranking country in the world (Sweden) has an index of 89 and the
world average if of 61. Finland (85) and Norway (84) follow Sweden
in the table, and after that come Germany and Rwanda, both with
80. While the first four countries are among the richest of the world,
Rwanda is one of the poorest. German Women are obviously better
educated and live longer than those in Rwanda. What the index
shows is that the gap separating their condition from those of men is

“The GEI for 2008 clearly shows that income alone is no guarantee
for gender equity”, emphasizes Social Watch coordinator Roberto
Bissio. Countries with very high per capita incomes, such as
Luxembourg or Switzerland, have the same equity level as
Mozambique, a country with a much lower income level.

For the first time this year, the GEI is able to show recent evolution
(last five years) in 133 countries. While there is no enough evidence
yet to show the evolution of very populous countries like China and
India, the indicators do show that progress towards gender equity is
difficult and vulnerable to regressions. Education is the dimension
that is closer to complete equity, with a global average of 90. But in
education more countries are regressing than those making
progresses. Empowerment is the dimension where most countries
are showing progress, but it is also the one where the global
average is the lowest, reaching only 35 points out of 100. In terms of
the economy, there are as many countries where women make
progress as countries regressing.

The economic dimension of the gender equity index measures gaps
in women's participation in the labour market and in the salaries
earned by them as compared to men. Among the 15 top places in
economic participation, the Nordic countries – Sweden, Norway,
Iceland, Denmark and Finland - share the honour with ten of the
poorest countries in the world: Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda,
Cambodia, Ghana, Viet Nam, Uganda, Madagascar, Kenya and

At the root of most of the national regressions in the total GEI the
index points out to setbacks in the participation of women in the
economy. This is the case of Eastern Europe, the region presenting
the biggest reversions in this area. Latvia, Belarus, Slovakia or
Macedonia, all of them countries that used to enjoy high levels of
female participation in the economy are now to be found in the
group of those regressing.

According to Genoveva Tisheva, managing director of the Bulgarian
Gender Research Foundation and a member of the Coordinating
Committee of Social Watch, “in Eastern Europe women are more
often unemployed after the completion of a higher educational
degree”. Tisheva argues that “legal and regulatory measures should
ensure access to the labour market of young women and other
groups of women with less bargaining power and from vulnerable
groups”. Tisheva warns that the global trends of trade liberalization
“have made of women one of the most flexible participants in the
labour market, subjected to deregulation, informalisation, lowering
of the social and labour standards”.

Affirmative measures such as gender quotas for political
participation in elected bodies and pro-equity regulations in the
labour market are behind most of the success stories of countries
making progress in the Gender Equity Index.
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