Yemen Dead Last in Gender Equality

What can I say? I’m not really surprised.  

Jordan maintains gender-equality standing on international index

Jordan Times – 11/11/2007

AMMAN – Jordan continues to hold its spot in the 2007 Global Gender Gap Index, which measures equality between men and women, ranking 104 among 128 countries included in the survey.

Although the Kingdom’s position remained the same as last year’s, the report indicated that Jordan’s procedures towards closing the gap between men and women improved in terms of education ranking 79 on the report’s scale.

Aida Abu Ras, who is a member of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, said the government has changed several laws that used to discriminate against women, referring to the women’s quota which was applied during the previous municipal elections where 200 women were elected in the municipal councils.

“Apparently, the report did not take that in mind when it was compiled,” Abu Ras told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

While women’s participation in the economic sector is no more than 15 per cent, Abu Ras said that women’s employment is not the government’s responsibility.

“We need to change the mentality of employment,” she said.

One way to do this, she noted, is illustrated by an agreement signed recently by the Labour Ministry and the Social Security Corporation under which the corporation, instead of private sector employers, will pay women compensation for maternity leaves. The deal removes a major obstacle before hiring women in the private sector, Abu Ras said, as employers tend to be reluctant in recruiting women because of such compensation.

But Mahmoud Hashmeh, an expert and lecturer on gender issues, attributed Jordan’s lack of progress on the gender equality index to the fact that “there have not been significant changes during the past year regarding legislation governing women empowerment”.

“We need to empower women and offer them an equal opportunity so that they are able to compete with men in various fields,” Hashmeh said yesterday.

In the fields of health and survival, Jordan ranked 88 scoring 97.1 per cent.

The Gender Gap Index is generated from a scoring system based on a zero-to-one scale (scoring zero in cases of inequality and one in cases of equality) but can be roughly interpreted as the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed.

The report also showed that most Arab world countries’ performance was below the global average as they did not show much improvement over the last year, with few exceptions.

The United Arab Emirates was an exception. According to the report, it had significant improvements on the areas of economic participation and political empowerment ranking 105. Both women and men participated in the elections for the first time in the UAE’s history, with nine women entering parliament and gaining 22.5 per cent of the seats.

The report also pointed to a woman who was elected to Bahrain’s lower house for the first time. Bahrain ranked 115.

Egypt ranked 120, as minor improvements in economic participation were offset by drops in both its health and education scores, the report said.

In Morocco, which ranked 122, the gap on estimated earned income between men and women worsened as did the difference in percentages of women and men who were legislators, senior officials and managers. The disparity between the enrolment of Morocco’s women and men in tertiary education also grew, the report said.

Saudi Arabia, ranking 124, showed minor improvements in labour force participation rates of women, but remains the lowest ranking country in the region on political empowerment, while Yemen, 128, continued to occupy not only the last place in the region, but also last place in overall rankings, having closed only a little more than 45 per cent of its gender gap, according to the report.

In general, no country managed to close the gender gap entirely, the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, which conducts the survey, found, but women in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland came closest to achieving equality with men in education, employment, health and politics, according to an Associated Press report.

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