WINDHOEK: Namibia slipped nine positions to 41st spot on the 2012 Global Gender Index, due to losses in the economic participation and opportunity sub-index.
The report benchmarked national gender gaps of 135 countries on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria, and was issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last Thursday.
Last year, Namibia was in 32nd position Global Gender Index.
The highest placed sub-Saharan African country is Lesotho (14th), but it also slipped five places due to losses in wage equality for similar work and estimated earned income, but remains the only country from the region that has closed the gender gap in both the education attainment and health and survival sub-indices.
It is joined in the top 20 by South Africa (16th), while Chad, in 133rd position, is the lowest on the continent. According to the report, no country in the world has achieved gender equality.
It said that the sub-Saharan Africa region has closed 66 per cent of its gender gap and performs well on the economic participation and opportunity sub-index, ranking just behind Europe and Central Asia and North America.
“However, regarding the educational attainment sub-index, sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the largest gender gap. On the health and survival sub-index, the region lies fifth, just before Asia and the Pacific. This is due to poor enrolment rates and low levels of life expectancy,” the report stated.
The four highest ranked countries – Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden – have closed between 80 and 86 per cent of their gender gaps, while the lowest-ranked country, Yemen, has closed a little over half of its gender gap.
The report recommended that business leaders and policymakers must ensure that, in addition to removing barriers to women’s entry to the workforce, they put in place practices and policies that will provide equal opportunities for rising to positions of leadership within companies.
While Namibia is ranked 31st on the global education list, the report indicated that the most basic investments in girls’ and women’s education still need to be made, and fundamental rights, including legal frameworks around inheritance, reproductive rights and violence, are often inadequate.
Africa ranked ahead of Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa on the political empowerment rankings, and Namibia secured 49th place in this category.
On average, over 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes, 93 per cent of the gap in educational attainment, 60 per cent of the gap in economic participation and 20 per cent of the gap in political empowerment had been closed.