The popular impression that Islamic societies treat women more unfairly than other societies does not appear to be correct. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2008 shows that several Islamic countries have a better record of gender equality than India.
Norway leads the world in closing the gender gap between men and women, and is followed by three other Nordic countries, Finland, Sweden and Iceland, in that order.
Previously higher ranking countries such as Germany (11), United Kingdom (13) and Spain (17) slipped down the Index but stayed in the top 20, while Netherlands (9), Latvia (10), Sri Lanka (12) and France (15) made significant gains.
This year’s study covered 130 countries. The Philippines (rank: 6), a predominantly Catholic country, and Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country, are the only Asian nations among the top 20.
Mongolia (40), Kyrgyz Republic (41) and Kazakhstan (45) occupy the next highest rankings in Asia, followed by Thailand (52), Uzbekistan (55) and China (57). China gains 16 places in the rankings, boosted by narrowing gaps among legislators, senior officials and mangers, professional and technical workers, parliamentary positions and ministerial level positions.
Vietnam (68), Singapore (84), Tajikistan (89), Bangladesh (90) and Maldives (91) fall into the middle of the rankings in the region but perform below the world median.
Bangladesh, the second highest ranking country in South Asia, after Sri Lanka, is well above India and Pakistan. It is closely followed by Indonesia (93), Cambodia (94), Malaysia (96), Japan (98) and Brunei Darussalam (99).
India (113), Iran (116), Nepal (120) and Pakistan (127) figure low in the world and Asian rankings.
Those who wish to know how the countries are ranked can find the details at the World Economic Forum site.