Gender equality by 2030? Countries making the most progress offer lessons on what needs to change – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kusum Kali Pal, Specialist, Center for New Economy and Society, World Economic Forum


  • Progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5), gender equality by 2030, does not appear to be on track. Even the most gender equal countries are not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.
  • COVID-19 and other intersecting shocks have reversed earlier progress, and the projected time to achieve gender parity globally has increased from 100 to 132 years between 2020 and 2022.
  • The Global Gender Gap Index provides a framework for action for countries to diagnose strategic areas that require effort and resources to address gender inequality.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2022 predicts that at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years to achieve gender equality globally.

The Index was launched in 2006, yet in the sixteen years since, the gender gap has narrowed by just 4%.

COVID-19 and other intersecting shocks have reversed earlier progress, and the projected time to reach parity has increased from 100 to 132 years between 2020 and 2022. Gender equality in 2022 has slipped back to its level of 2016. Progress towards Sustainable Development Goal Five, Gender equality by 2030, doesn’t seem to be on the right track. Not a single country is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. Progress, even in the most equal countries, has yet to result in full equality.

The Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index measures outcomes along four key dimensions: economic empowerment, education level, health level and political empowerment. It provides a framework for action for countries to diagnose strategic areas that require effort and resources to address gender inequality.

While all countries struggle to achieve gender equality goals, some are performing better than others and all countries can learn from their work. These ten countries are leading the way.

1. Political empowerment is a game-changer: Iceland

Iceland tops index for 13e consecutive year. It has closed 90.8% of the gender gap and is the only country to have crossed the 90% threshold. At this level of progress, Iceland will achieve gender equality by 2035.

As one of the first to adopt legal parity in employment, Iceland has closed 80.3% of the economic gender gap and is on the way to achieving gender parity in the world. education and health.

But it is the pillar of political empowerment where Iceland outperforms the rest, ranking first out of 13e consecutive time with a parity score of 87.4% in 2022. Along with relatively high female political representation, Iceland is second only to Bangladesh for years with a female head of state.

2. Professional mobility requires work: Finland

Ranks second on the Global Gender Gap Index, with an overall score of 86%. As the first country in the world to allow women to run for office in 1906 and through its longstanding efforts to include women in leadership, the country ranks globally in political empowerment. Finland also has a closer disparity in the workforce and has achieved parity in technical roles.

However, there has been less progress in women’s labor mobility towards leadership positions and income parity, and at the current rate of progress, Finland is on track to achieve gender parity in 36 years.

3. Reverse of economic parity: Norway

Norway has closed 84.5% of its gender gap. She has made steady progress towards parity in political empowerment, but has slipped back on the economic empowerment pillar since 2015. Norway has had a female head of state for most of the last decade , which boosted its political parity score. Progress towards parity in Norway is slowing, however, largely due to declines in economic parity. At the current rate of progress, Norway will achieve gender parity by 2077.

4. Income disparity has increased: New Zealand

The only East Asian and Pacific country in the top 10, New Zealand has closed 84.1% of its gender gap. A pioneer of women’s suffrage, New Zealand remains on the border of political parity. New Zealand’s parity in the economic participation pillar is also relatively high, due to a narrower gap in labor force participation. But income disparity has grown over the past decade, and the government is considering tough pay transparency policies. It has reached parity in education and is close to parity in health, with a score of 96.6%.

5. The healthy life expectancy gap persists: Sweden

Sweden scores 82.2% and has maintained its high parity score since 2006. It has made remarkable progress in gender parity in leadership positions and earnings since then. Sweden also maintained a high proportion of women in ministerial positions and in parliament, 57.1% and 46.1% respectively. It has closed the gender gap in education, but a growing gap in healthy life expectancy has led to a drop in its health score.

6. Informal employment needs to be equalized: Rwanda

Rwanda is the highest ranked African country in the index, with a parity score of 81.1%. After implementing activation policies for women, including maternity leave and the creation of childcare facilities, Rwanda has closed the gender gap in labor market participation.

Women are, however, more likely to be informally employed than men, resulting in a wide gender income gap. Politically, gender quotas in Rwanda have resulted in strong representation in parliament and government. It has also made progress in the areas of health and education.

7. The pandemic has slowed labor force parity: Nicaragua

The only Latin American country in the top 10, Nicaragua has closed 81% of its gender gap. Blessed with strong participation of women in politics, Nicaragua has tripled its parity score in political empowerment since 2006, reaching parity in parliamentary and ministerial positions.

Economic parity increased until 2017, but declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has lowered parity in labor market participation and wages in particular. A partial recovery in the activity rate is underway.

8. Wage and income gaps remain: Namibia

Namibia has closed 80.7% of its overall gender gap. It has nearly tripled its political empowerment parity score, from 17.2% in 2006 to 46.3% in 2022, thanks to a large improvement in women’s political representation. The share of women in ministerial positions has doubled to 39% since 2006. Namibia has moved towards parity in economic participation and opportunity since 2006, now reaching 78.5%. The current level, however, is below its peak in 2017. The wage and income gap has widened since 2017.

9. Complete health parity just missed: Ireland

Ireland maintains its 9e rank at 80.4% parity, although below their 2015 peak of 80.7%. In Ireland job mobility continues to be a challenge – only 36% of management positions are held by women. However, when it comes to political representation, Ireland has made progress – reaching 50.7% parity in 2022. 23% of Irish parliamentarians are women, the highest proportion to date. It has also closed the gender gap in educational attainment and narrowly missed full parity in health.

10. Unstable progress despite political emancipation: Germany

Germany re-entered the top 10 this year, with a score of 80.1%. 16 years of leadership by a female head of state, and women representing 40% of ministers, has meant steady progress towards parity in political empowerment.

Yet Germany’s progress has been shaky – it has reversed gains several times over the years. This volatility is the partial result of declines in the economic parity. Institutional factors such as the tax system and the lack of affordable care facilities have deterred women from entering or remaining in the labor market, and almost 37% of employed women work part-time. The latest deterioration in disparities on this pillar has brought Germany back to 2016 levels, at 69.1%.