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Girls & Women

The UK Just Dropped 6 Spots in World Gender Equality Rankings

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Britain is falling behind when compared to other wealthy nations when it comes to the gender pay gap and political representation, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report. The WEF says that lack of progress on gender equality undermines the world's ability to achieve the UN’s Global Goals and unlock potential — so it's essential that the UK, and the rest of the world, makes a change. To find out more and take action on gender equality, join the movement here.

The UK has fallen six places in a ranking of countries around the world on gender equality, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Britain now ranks 21st on the list, with Albania, Canada, Costa Rica, Latvia, Switzerland, South Africa, and Spain all overtaking the country.

The annual report looks at inequality across economics, politics, health, and education. Most industrialised countries improved their standings from last year, the report notes, making the UK’s drop by comparison more obvious. Spain, for example, climbed from 29th place to 8th. 

The WEF said that the reason for the UK’s poor performance was that women were underrepresented in politics and the gender pay gap was far wider than in other countries. Since the data was collected, a record number of female MPs have entered parliament – 220 in total – but they still only represent about a third of the total.

“[The] UK’s economic gender gap comes in at 58th worldwide, brought down by big gaps in the estimated earned income of women (the country came 102nd on this) compared to men as well as straightforward wage inequality (76th),” the WEF said.

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For example, the report found that the difference between men’s wages and women’s is 16% in the UK, while only 7% in Sweden and Norway. It was also noted that some of the UK’s newest industries have wide gender pay gaps (like cloud computing and AI).  

Scandanavian countries generally did well in the WEF report. Iceland came top — having closed 88% of its gender pay gap, then Norway with 84.2%, Finland with 83.2%, and Sweden with 82%.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of WEF, told reporters that their analysis highlighted “the growing urgency for action” on gender inequality. He pointed out that at the current global rate, it will take 99 years to close the gap.

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“Without the equal inclusion of half of the world’s talent, we will not deliver on the promise of the fourth industrial revolution for all of society or achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals," Schwab told the Guardian. “At the present rate of change, it will take nearly a century to achieve parity, a timeline we simply cannot accept in today’s globalised world, especially among younger generations who hold increasingly progressive views of gender equality.”