Bangladesh Falls 40 Places in Gender Equality Ranking2 min read

Bangladesh has experienced a sharp decline in its position on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Index 2024, falling 40 places to rank 99th among 146 economies. Despite this significant drop, Bangladesh continues to lead South Asia in gender equality for the tenth consecutive year. The 18th edition of the index, unveiled today, revealed that Bangladesh’s descent from its previous rank of 59th was the most pronounced among the indexed countries. The primary reason for this decline is a notable deterioration in economic gender parity over the past five years. The country has now closed 68.9% of its gender gap, a decrease from 72.2% in the previous year.

This year, all South Asian countries saw a decline in their rankings. The WEF index evaluates the gender gap across four fundamental categories: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment, encompassing 14 indicators. As reported, Nepal, with 66.4% of its gender gap closed, ranks second in the region at 117th globally, down from 116th last year. Sri Lanka follows at 122nd with 65.3% of its gender gap closed. Bhutan is at 124th (65.1%), India at 129th (64.1%), and the Maldives at 132nd (63.3%). Pakistan remains the least gender-equal country in South Asia and the second least globally, with a gender gap closure of 57%, while Afghanistan, last year’s worst performer, was not ranked in this year’s index.

Globally, Iceland remains the top-ranked country with a 93.5% gender gap closure, maintaining its lead for over a decade. Other top performers include Finland (87.5%), Norway (87.5%), New Zealand (83.5%), and Sweden (81.6%). Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, underscored the urgent need for a renewed global commitment to achieving gender parity, especially in economic and political spheres. “We cannot wait until 2158 for parity. The time for decisive action is now,” she stated.

Despite its overall decline, Bangladesh excels in educational attainment, achieving a 94% parity rate. This includes full parity in secondary enrollment, a 93% literacy rate, and 84.1% tertiary enrollment parity. However, the country saw a decline in the health and survival category, now ranking 129th. Bangladesh stands out in political empowerment, with a gender parity score of 54.3%, ranking seventh globally. This high score is largely attributed to the country’s history of women serving in head-of-state roles for over 30 years in the past half-century. The report highlights the challenges and progress in gender equality, calling for accelerated efforts to bridge the gap, particularly in economic and political domains.

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