Global Gender Equality: We’re Not There Yet

As the captains of industry gather for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) symposium in Davos, Switzerland, it’s worth noting the parallels between that assembly and the WEF’s annual Global Gender Gap report. The WEF itself notes that less than one in five attendees at the Forum this week will be female (see Who are the women of Davos 2016?), up just 2% from two years ago.

GGG-2015-chartSo it is with the Global Gender Gap analysis. The 10th annual analysis was published in November, and the news release announcing the publication noted that women’s economic progress has “stalled markedly” over the past five years. In fact, the report’s authors note that, at the present rate of progress, it will be 118 (!!) years before we see economic parity between women and men – even though there’s been significant progress in terms of health and education. Political parity (more women in elected and appointed positions in the public sector) is even further away.

GGG2015-toptenThere’s been little change at the top over the past decade, with Nordic countries dominating the list. The top five countries: Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Ireland. At the bottom of the list of 145 countries analyzed: Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Chad, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the inaugural effort in 2005, the top countries (from among the 58 included that year) were: Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland.

To learn more, see how your country stands, and download the report and infographics, visit The Global Gender Gap Report 2015 web portal.

What Do Women Entrepreneurs Need to Grow? A New Initiative Keeps Score

It’s one thing to encourage more women to start their own entrepreneurial ventures, but what are the elements that can ensure their future growth and success? And what countries are doing a good (and not so good) job of providing a “womenabling” environment for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs? These are the questions asked – and answered – in the new Global Women Entrepreneur Leaders Scorecard, a data-powered diagnostic tool developed by ACG Inc. with support from Dell.

The research team (of which Womenable is a member) considered the elements necessary for supporting growth-oriented, high-impact women entrepreneurs – AND what data are currently available on a regular basis – gathering and combining 21 data variables into an analytical framework comprised of five main elements:

  • Business environment;
  • Gendered access to resources;
  • Women’s leadership and legal rights;
  • A gendered entrepreneurial pipeline; and
  • Potential female entrepreneurial leaders.

DWEN_Global-Scorecard-ResultsThe resulting analysis, conducted among 31 economies that collectively account for 76% of global GDP, finds that the following countries provide the environment most conducive to supporting high-impact women’s entrepreneurship:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. Sweden
  5. United Kingdom

At the other end of the list are countries that are not so supportive:

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Pakistan
  3. India
  4. Egypt
  5. Tunisia

One important conclusion of the analysis is that even among highly-ranked countries there is much room for improvement, as the scores – calculated on a 0-100 scale – only reach 71 even in the top-ranked U.S.

And what can all of us do to help the cause? Several recommendations for action offered include:

  • Narrow the gender data gap by measuring progress of women entrepreneur-focused initiatives;
  • Prioritize female-owned businesses in public and private supply chains;
  • Promote and empower women in the workplace;
  • Raise the visibility of female role models in business; and
  • Build entrepreneurship skills for girls by investing in STEM education.

Learn more and download the GWEL Scorecard executive report and methodology at THIS WEB PAGE.

The 2014 GGG: Improving With Age

For the ninth straight year, the World Economic Forum has published its Global Gender Gap Report, an analysis of the relative parity of women and men in 142 countries on four important dimensions: health and survival, education, economic empowerment and political participation.
As in previous years, countries in the Nordic region top the list as having the highest degree of gender equality, even though there’s room for improvement in all countries. Here’s the list of the top ten countries this year, along with their scores (which theoretically can range from 0 for complete inequality to 1 for complete equality):

1.    Iceland (0.86)
2.    Finland (0.85)
3.    Norway (0.84)
4.    Sweden (0.82)
5.    Denmark (0.80)
6.    Nicaragua (0.79)
7.    Rwanda (0.79)
8.    Ireland (0.79)
9.    Philippines (0.78)
10.    Belgium (0.78)

At the bottom of the list, with the least amount of gender equality, are:

142.    Yemen (.51)
141.    Pakistan (.55)
140.    Chad (.58)
139.    Syria (.58)
138.    Mail (.58)
137.    Iran (.58)
136.    Cote d’Ivoire (.59)
135.    Lebanon (.59)
134.    Jordan (.60)
133.    Morocco (.60)

What’s most interesting, however, is the fact that 111 countries have been tracked for all nine years, so there’s now a growing body of knowledge with respect to areas of improvement and decline. Some of the most noteworthy trends include:

  • Among the four pillars of the GGG, the gender gap is narrowest in the area of health and survival, with a 0.96 rating globally. While 35 countries have closed this gap entirely, this is the only subindex in which gender parity has declined over the nine years of analysis. At the other end of the gender gap spectrum, the ratio of the political empowerment of women compared to that of men remains at just 0.21 among the 111 nations tracked over the past nine years. This pillar, however, has seen the most improvement since 2006.
  • Regionally, Latin America has seen the largest absolute reduction in their overall gender gap, with 4.2% of their gap narrowed since 2006. At the other end of the spectrum, the Asia-Pacific region is the only region in which the gender gap has widened, by 3.2%.
  • Between 2006 and 2014, 105  of 111 countries have made progress overall, while just six countries have regressed relative to their starting point. The countries that have seen the largest reductions in their gender gaps, relative to where they were ranked in 2006, are: Nicaragua, Nepal, France, Ecuador, and Saudi Arabia.

The six countries that have seen a worsening of their gender gaps in the areas of health, education, economic participation and political empowerment since 2006 are: Croatia, Jordan, Macedonia, Mali, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

With nearly a decade’s worth of data made public through these reports, what are the lessons we can learn? First and foremost, while there is indeed a vast difference in gender equality between #1 Iceland and #142 Yemen, there is room for improvement in every economy – especially with respect to political inclusion and economic empowerment. While health and education have seen tremendous gains over the past decade, women’s voices are frequently absent from political and economic decision-making – to the detriment of those county’s economic health and social stability.

Secondly, parity does not necessarily equal empowerment. Closing gender gaps, while an important indicator of overall well-being, should not lead us to think that our womenabling work is done. Improving the overall level of health, education, political inclusion and economic empowerment for both women and men is important as well.

Finally, having nearly a decade’s worth of data increases our level of insight and analysis and shows us that, while there has been improvement in nearly every country since 2006, there has been some decline – both within some individual countries and regionally in the Asia-Pacific region. Having information such as this on a consistent and detailed basis can inform policymaking and fuel advocacy. OK, womenablers, on your mark, set, go!

Visit to learn more, see where your country ranks, and to download the complete report. And here’s a brief 2-minute video explaining the impetus behind the GGG initiative.

2nd Annual Gender-GEDI Report Reveals Most Womenabling Economies

Yesterday, Dell hosted the fifth gathering of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (#DWEN) in its hometown, Austin Texas. In addition to sharing their own stories of struggle and success, these women of accomplishment also saw Dell release their second annual Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index report (also known by the moniker #Gender-GEDI). The Index analyzes the conditions favorable for high-growth potential women entrepreneurs – including laws, programs, and individual characteristics. This year saw the analysis expand from 17 to 30 countries, which collectively account for 66% of the world’s female population and 75% of global GDP. The analysis finds that:Woman hiking to Everest basecamp

  • The most womenabling economies in the world are the United States, Australia and Sweden, with scores of 83, 80 and 73, respectively. They are followed by France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51);
  • With the top tier economies receiving scores of 51 to 83 on a 0-100 scale, there is room for improvement. Indeed, the other 22 countries received scores under 50, including four countries (Uganda, Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan) receiving Gender-GEDI scores under 20;
  • Among the 17 countries included in both the 2013 and 2014 Gender GEDI Index reports, four increased their ranking and four declined. Japan improved the most, up three places from 12th to 9th. Brazil jumped two places, from 14th to 12th. The biggest decline was seen in Malaysia, which dropped four spots, from 9th to 13th; and
  • When comparing the rankings of countries included in the Gender-GEDI analysis with those also included in the non-gendered GEDI rankings, ten countries rank better for high-potential women’s entrepreneurship than for general entrepreneurial conditions. In alphabetical order, they are: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Panama, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand.

Read more about the report’s highlights in the study news release, and click HERE to learn more about the Gender-GEDI and how it is constructed. And for you fellow statistical mavens, click HERE to download and read the 46-page executive report. A more complete report, including background tables and more country-level detail, will be available soon – and when it is, you’ll be able to find it on Womenable’s Reference Library web page.

Charting Trends in Gender Equality

Since 2006, the World Economic Forum has published its Global Gender Gap report – an accounting of the relative position of women relative to men in 136 economies along four dimensions: 1) health and survival; 2) educational attainment; 3) economic participation; and 4) political empowerment.

male-female-symbolsAnd, again, the Nordic economies top the list. Leading the way is Iceland – ranked at #1 for the 5th straight year – followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Philippines rounds out the top five, jumping up from 8th position last year and knocking Ireland out of the top five.

At the other end of the list are: Yemen, ranked 136th out of 136 economies; Pakistan; Chad; Syria; and Mauritania.

More interesting than the current rankings, perhaps, are the changes over time, since the analysis is now in its eighth year. First off, here are the stalwart eight – the countries that have attained a top ten ranking in all eight years:

  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Sweden

Secondly, there are five countries of note, who could be said to make up the “most improved” list. They are:

  •  Switzerland, ranked 26 in 2006 and 9 in 2013
  • Nicaragua, which has risen from a ranking of 62 in 2006 to 10th place this year
  • Ecuador, up from 82 to 25
  • Bolivia, up from 87 to 27
  • Malawi, ranked 81 in 2006 and 39 this year

Where does your country rank on this list? CLICK HERE to find out!

Measuring the BEE for WOBs in LAC

Taking on those who might attribute gender gaps in business performance to differences in entrepreneurial drive, commitment or motivation, there is a growing body of analysis focused on how the business-enabling environment (BEE) affects the development of women-owned businesses (WOBs). We womenablers are well aware that a woman entrepreneur can be as committed and motivated as all get-out, but her enterprise will not grow as strongly as one owned by her male peers if (for example) she cannot own property in her own name – thereby depriving her of the collateral needed to fuel the growth of her business via access to capital.

Property ownership and capital access are among the 49 input variables in five key categories (security & stability, business climate, finance, capacity and social services) that are codified and analyzed in a new regional assessment of women’s entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The WEVentureScope, from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), was announced in a launch event last week. Featuring speakers from the MIF, the Economist Intelligence Unit, which conducted the analysis (and which brought us the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index), and a panel of experts, the event announced the availability of a summary report as well as a marvelously interactive web site ( which allows users to change the weighting of different factors and see how it affects a country’s overall score.

At present, the WEVentureScope analyzes and ranks 20 countries in the region – ensuring coverage across the region but focusing on countries with a higher level of data availability. In this inaugural effort, these five countries lead the list:

  • Chile (scoring 64.8 out of a possible 100):
  • Peru (62.4);
  • Columbia (61.8);
  • Mexico (60.2): and
  • Uruguay (60.0).

During the announcement event (which you can watch at your leisure by clicking on the link to the archived event below – the event starts at 1:45:00 and runs just under 2 hours), the point was made that, even among these top-ranked countries, there is much room for improvement, given that the top score is just two-thirds of the way to a perfect score of 100. Speakers also mentioned the challenge of comparative data, and the hope that a report such as this will spur more governments to start keeping the sort of sex-disaggregated data and statistics that could add new countries to this effort in future years.

Women’s Entrepreneurial VentureScope Launch Event

Visit the web site to learn more, read the news release, download the report, and play with the weighting of different environmental factors.

This effort is an important step forward in understanding the barriers to entry and growth of women-owned firms in the region, and to informing policy and programmatic action to support their improved success. ¡Viva las mujeres empresarias!

A New Measurement of Support for Women’s Entrepreneurship

The Womenabler has long lamented the lack of a business-enabling environment (BEE) assessment that takes the special challenges facing would-be and established women business owners into account. Traditional BEE assessments (such as The World Bank’s Doing Business indicators or the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom) are “gender-blind,” thus ignoring both the legal and cultural impediments that exist for women in many countries when they attempt to start or grow businesses. And, at the same time, gender equality indices (such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap reports, the Economist Intelligence female figure on map of EuropeUnit’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Index, or the UN’s Gender Empowerment Measure) do not include entrepreneurial measures as among the factors assessed. And, interestingly, the top-ranked countries in each of these two distinct types of environmental assessments share exactly 0 countries in common. (See the paper, “Assessing Business-Enabling Environments: How Gender Changes the Equation,” presented by Womenable CEO Julie Weeks in 2011 at both an academic conference and a meeting of national policy institutions.)

Now, into the breach, comes an exciting new project: Gender-GEDI. Spearheaded by a team at George Mason University that also developed the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (hence GEDI), this new index insist of 30 evaluation factors, aggregated into 15 pillars and three main environmental elements: entrepreneurial environment, entrepreneurial eco-system and entrepreneurial aspirations. The pilot effort assessing the individual, institutional and legal environment for high-potential women’s entrepreneurship includes 17 countries – picked to represent a variety of regions and development contexts. Who came out on top? Here’s the list:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Mexico
  6. United Kingdom
  7. South Africa
  8. China
  9. Malaysia
  10. Russia
  11. Turkey
  12. Japan
  13. Morocco
  14. Brazil
  15. Egypt
  16. India
  17. Uganda

This new analysis was underwritten by Dell, and released today at their 4th annual Women’s Entrepreneur Network gathering in Istanbul, Turkey. Womenable was pleased to have played a role as an advisor on this effort, and we look forward to expanding the analysis to additional countries in the future (pending funding, of course!)

Click on these links to learn more about Gender-GEDI, a news release summary of the findings of this important new analysis, and to download and read the 22-page white paper.