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Monday, November 19, 2007

MABUTING BALITA: RP is no. 6 in Global Equality Index

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The Philippines is ranked sixth among 128 countries in the race for gender equality, outshining its competitors including the United States and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The only countries ahead of the Philippines in this year's global gender gap index of the World Economic Forum are Sweden (1), Norway (2), Finland (3), Iceland (4) and New Zealand (5).

The index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities, said Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University, one of the authors of the report.

"Thus the index does not penalize those countries that have low levels of education overall, but rather those where the distribution of education is uneven between women and men," he said.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2007 released on Thursday in New York, measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.

A copy of the report is also available in the World Economic Forum web page.

While no country has yet achieved gender equality, Sweden, Norway and Finland have closed over 80 percent of the gender gap and serve as a useful benchmark for international comparisons, the report said.

The report provides an insight into the gaps between men and women in over 90 percent of the world's population and shows the Philippines (6) and Sri Lanka (15) as being the only Asian countries in the top 20.

The Philippines is the only country in Asia to have closed the gender gap on both education and health and is one of only six in the world to have done so, the report said.

The country's scores on political empowerment improved further, as did some of its economic indicators such as estimated income, labor force participation and income equality for similar work, the report added.

A majority of the more than eight million overseas Filipino workers who remit about $12 billion annually are women.

The Philippines placed first in educational attainment and health and survival, second in economic participation and 14th in political empowerment for a total score of 76.29, just 5.17 points off top rated Sweden's score of 81.46.

In 2006, the Philippines also ranked sixth among 115 countries.

Apart from the Philippines, other ASEAN countries rated in the report are Vietnam (42nd place with a score of 68.9 points), Thailand (52nd, 68.2 points), Singapore (77th, 66.1 points), Indonesia (81st, 65.5 points), Malaysia (92nd, 64.4 points) and Cambodia (9th, 63.5 points).

The United States ranked 31st with 70 points; Japan, 91st, 64.5 points; and Yemen, 128th, 45.1 points.

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