thumbnail photo by Francisco Osoro
In efforts to measure and track gender inequality across the globe, the World Economic Forum released its annual study that measures the gender gap in 142 countries around the world. Focusing on four key areas, the Global Gender Gap Report quantifies women’s access to resources and opportunities in comparison to their male counterparts.
Despite having reelected their first female president, Michelle Bachelet, Chile is still a place where women live with inferior access to resources and opportunities than men.
In its 2014 Global Gender Gap Report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) listed Chile as number 66 in gender equality in its rankings of 142 countries.
Despite being among the wealthiest countries in the region, Chile’s ranking fell below ten other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Nicaragua (6), Ecuador (21), Argentina (31) and Peru (45).
With 1.00 indicating full equality, Chile’s gender gap score is .698, compared to Nicaragua’s .789. Meaning Chile has closed just 70% of its gender gap while the region’s top scorer has closed nearly 80%.
Despite its mediocre rankings, Chile has made improvements. Since 2006, the first year of the study, the country has closed a further 8% of its gender gap in absolute terms.
The report also said it anticipates future improvements, in reference to Bachelet’s reelection.
“While much remains similar to last year, there are now twice the number of women in ministerial positions (from 18% to 39%),” the 2014 Gender Gap report said, “With Michelle Bachelet back in office, the country is likely to improve in terms of women’s political empowerment over the coming year.”
Out of Chile’s 23 government ministers, Bachelet chose nine women when she entered office in March.
Along with her ministerial picks, in March Bachelet also signed a bill to create a new ministry of woman and gender equity.
“With this creation of a ministry –which we hope passes quickly in parliament- we are going to have a fundamental instrument to banish gender inequality,” President Bachelet said when she signed the bill for the creation of the ministry.
Chile’s lower house passed the bill earlier this month. The legislation is now under review in the local senate.
Economic participation and opportunity
In three of the four areas the Global Gender Gap Report covered, namely educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment, Chile ranked within the top 40.
However, in the fourth area, economic participation and opportunity, Chile’s ranking stands at 119th in the world.
Wage disparity, as one factor, is an ongoing issue in the country. The difference in earnings between men and women working in the same position is 16%, reported local daily La Segunda.
Economic participation and opportunity also considers female participation in the work force and various professions.
“After Nicaragua, it (Chile) has improved the most in terms of women’s labor force participation but also worsened the most in the world in terms of the number of women in professional and technical positions,” the WEF report said.
The good news
Chile was evaluated well in terms of educational attainment, having effectively closed the gender gap in terms of the literacy rate and enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
In terms of political empowerment, Chile ranked 35, with a score of .259, accounting for the low female-to-male ratio in Chile’s parliament (.19) and the fact that just four years of the past 50 have been lead by a female head of state.
Though not even close to bridging the gender gap, Chile did outperform most countries in the area “women in ministerial positions”, placing 14th out of the 142 countries assessed.
Latin America and beyond
“In Latin America and the Caribbean, 14 of the 26 countries in the region have closed over 70% of the gender gap,” the WEF said, naming Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cuba as occupying the top three spots.
“The lowest ranking country in the region—Suriname—has closed a little over 65% of its gender gap,“ according to the report.
Latin America’s top performer in the report, Nicaragua (6 overall) is the only country in the region to make it into the top 10 for three consecutive years. The country also has seen the highest improvement overall since 2006.
The world’s top performer, Iceland, has occupied the number one spot for the last six consecutive years. High scores in political empowerment partially drive Iceland’s placement, as a female head of state has lead the country through 20 of the last 50 years.
Yemen, on the other end of the spectrum, was dead last in the overall Gender Gap rankings, having closed just over 50% of the gender gap.
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March 21, 2017
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February 05, 2017
I really enjoyed this story. It made me think about my own predisposit
Thank you, Scott.
I have been living in Santiago for about one year and I can confirm th
This was an enjoyable read. I could easily picture the venue and und
Thank you so much, Melanie. I appreciate your kind words about my stor