Gender equality means when everyone, irrespective of gender, has equal rights, opportunities, and responsibilities. Gender equality is a fundamental human right. It demands that there should be no discrimination based on gender. It is pertinent to lay foundations for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Gender equality does not necessarily entail that everyone should be treated the same. It only asks for fostering conditions that value the dreams/aspirations of everyone. This should be done on an equal basis. Gender equality requires that people of all genders should be free to pursue any career. It requires that they should have the freedom for making different lifestyle choices as well.
World Economic Forum Index measures gender gap based on the following key indicators;
- Economic Participation, and Opportunity.
- Health and Survival.
- Educational Attainment and Political Empowerment.
According to the World Economic Forum, top three gender-equal countries are the following;
- Iceland ranks at the top, and is the most gender-equal country for the 12th time as per World Economic Forum Index. It has closed the gender gap by 89.2%.
- Finland ranks second in the World Economic Forum Index, and is the second most gender-equal country. It has closed the gender gap by 86.1%.
- Norway’s ranking is third in the Index, and it has closed the gender gap by 84.9%.
This article by top dissertation researchers of The Academic Papers UK highlights the top three countries in gender equality as per world economic forum Index. This discussion highlights practices of the countries mentioned above which differentiate them as the top three gender-equal countries. Let’s discuss this in detail;
Iceland inculcates gender-equality lessons among its citizens since pre-school. Nordic country is one of the best places to be a woman. This is because the government designed laws and policies. These were introduced for nurturing gender equality within the country. In 2009, the government introduced gender budgeting initiatives for closing the gender gap. Gender budgeting reprioritised the allocation of resources to help close gender gaps. Due to this initiative, Iceland occupied a central role in leading the change for gender equality as per the World Economic Forum Index. The country ranks number one in terms of promoting political empowerment amongst women. Gender budgeting, and mainstreaming allowed the country to assess the impact of budget measures on closing the income gap. According to the World Economic Forum Index, Iceland ranks number one in closing the gender gap. Let us discuss some of those policies in detail, which made Iceland a leader in terms of gender equality;
Protection of Women by Law
Iceland introduced an Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men in 2000, which was upgraded in 2009. The salient features of this law are given as follows;
- Promotion of gender equality in all spheres of society.
- Governments, and businesses are directed to follow gender equal rights strictly.
- The law differentiates between direct, and indirect gender discrimination.
- Acknowledgement of gender gaps.
- Omission of stereotypical language which is detrimental to gender rights.
- The law includes articles and clauses which discourage gender discrimination in the school curriculum, workplaces, and general life.
Some other policies include the following aspects;
- Equal pay for Equal Work directs the companies, and firms to ensure that women receive compensation equivalent to the work they perform.
- The Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women states that any public organisation, committees, company boards, and councils must have at least 40% women.
- Parental leave policies provide equal benefits to both parents, which comprises leave from six to nine months. Parental leave is divided equally between both parents to create a healthy environment for the new-born child.
- From pre-school to college-level, curriculum is designed for promoting gender equality.
- Banned strip clubs in 2009, and the law ensures that women are not sexualised in the advertisements.
Finland is another leading example of gender equality. It was the first country to grant complete political rights to women in 1906. Women make up 46% of the members in the Parliament, and it has the 9th largest share in the world in this domain. According to World Economic Forum Index of 2021, the head of State were women over 13 years. Finland has closed the gap by 66.9% regarding political empowerment of women in the entire Western Europe. Women also occupy 50% of the ministerial positions in Finland, where the Prime Minister since 2019 is a woman.
Finland has also improved the Economic Participation, and Opportunity for achieving gender equality. Let’s highlight the improvement made by Finland to achieve gender parity;
- According to World Economic Forum Index, in 2021, Finland has closed the economic participation gap by 80.6%, which is the 13th best in the world.
- The presence of women in senior, and managerial roles increased to 36.9% in 2021.
- 76.6% of women comprise the workforce of Finland, and there are more women in professional, and technical roles than men.
Norway is another Nordic country that dominates the World Economic Forum Index’s ranking in gender equality. The enrolment of women in tertiary education is over 97% versus less than 70% for men. Women have been in the leadership role for 17.4 years in Norway. Norway has closed the gap in political empowerment of women by 64%. The share of women in Norway’s Parliament is 44.4%. The representation of women in ministerial positions is 38.9%. Norway has closed the gender gap by 79.2% in the Economic Participation, and Opportunity Index. The labour market of Norway comprises of 75.6% women and 34.5% women in senior positions such as legislators, senior officials, and managers. Norway has closed the earned income gap by 79.2%, and the wage equality gap by 74.5%. Norway is the most successful example in closing the Educational Attainment gaps by 100%, and Health and Survival gaps by 96.4%.
Gender equality plays a vital role in creating a peaceful, and stable society. It has significant implications for the economy, and the overall wellbeing of society. Discrimination against women in any sphere of life is detrimental to the progress of any nation. Nordic countries should serve as an example for other nations in terms of following the means to achieve gender equality.