Nordic countries remain among some of the world’s best for overall equality with Iceland topping the list with a 12% gender gap across all the WEF’s measures. Norway, Finland and Sweden are all in the top five.
Rwanda came fourth in the list for overall gender equality with a gap of 18%. It has the highest share of women in parliament in the world – they occupy three in every five seats.
Nicaragua, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand and the Philippines also made the top 10 on the Global Gender Gap rankings.
Women in the Middle East and North Africa fared the worst, with war-torn Yemen coming last on the list with a gender equality score of just 52%.
The WEF report shows women in the world earn less not just because of gendered salary differences, but because women are more likely to do unpaid or part-time work than men.
Women also generally tend to work in lower-paid professions and are less likely to be in highly-paid senior roles in companies.
Slovenia has the smallest gap in gender earnings – with women there on average earning 80.5% of the male national average.
The WEF report says that if the economic gender gap was totally closed:
China could add $2.5 trillion to its GDP
The US could add $1.75 billion
France and Germany could add more than $300 billion each
Both Canada and France saw improvements to their political empowerment measures after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron added more women in ministerial positions within their governments.
The US saw a marked drop in this area, with female political empowerment at its lowest rate in 10 years. It came 96th in this area.
The WEF report blames a significant decrease in female ministerial positions for the fall – a Freedom of Information request in March revealed that only 27% of all jobs within the Trump administration were taken by women.
Overall the US fell four places to take 49th position.
Other countries that improved overall included Bangladesh, which now ranks 47th in the world and the highest in South Asia after increasing female employment in professions.
Sub-Saharan African countries made marked improvements in women’s health. Nine countries from the region are in the world’s top 20 for high female labor force participation.
Oil prices will rise further, say industry leaders at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Indonesia.
Industry leaders at the meeting in Jakarta said the long-term view was that demand for oil is growing.
Oil prices are around their highest levels for 2015.
The price of Brent crude was at $63 a barrel on April 21, up 40% from its January low of $45 a barrel and near its high for the year of $65.
Oil prices more than halved in the second half of last year, as falling demand and high levels of output caused a glut in supply.
Melody Boone Meyer, president of Asia-Pacific exploration and production at US energy giant Chevron, said that dramatic falls were not an uncommon feature of the oil market.
“The price of oil in the last 30 years has fallen five times by 50%,” Melody Boone Meyer said at the forum.
“There’s a surplus of supply right now, and inevitably the decline will occur.”
It was important to continue with projects that were in development, Melody Boone Meyer added, emphasising that Chevron had a lot of projects that are well supported at these price levels.
Shahril Shamsuddin, group chief executive at Malaysia’s SapuraKencana Petroleum, backed that view: “The light at the end of the tunnel is that, in the long term, demand is growing and over the next two to three years we will see prices come to an optimum level.”
Handry Satriago, the CEO of GE Indonesia, said that a lot of its customers in the country were delaying projects because of the slump in prices.
“Since last year we experienced some delay, but last year was because of the political situation of the country,” he said.
“We were having the election, and a new government, but now that delay has became more delayed due to the current situation.”
The company has been trying to work with partners to “keep projects warm” and not to cancel them.
“We show our commitment to them [oil partners], that we are here and we continue to support and work together,” Handry Satriago said.
“We also lobby to the government to make sure that the project can continue.”
With Asia expected to become a net importer of oil in the next decade as consumption booms, government officials said it was necessary to secure energy supplies, even with falling prices.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, lost its position as South East Asia’s sole nation in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2008 after it became a net oil importer.
The Nigerian government has decided to shut schools and government offices across the capital Abuja, while a World Economic Forum conference takes place next week.
A big security operation is being promised to protect more than 1,000 delegates at the three-day meeting, after two deadly bomb attacks in Abuja.
An explosion late on Thursday killed 19 people, two weeks after a nearby bombing left 75 dead.
Islamist militant group Boko Haram is being blamed for the violence.
The same group is believed to be behind the kidnapping of more than 200 teenage girls from their school in Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria more than a fortnight ago.
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 will take place in Abuja from May 7 to May 9
The group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, has staged a wave of attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years, with an estimated 1,500 killed in the violence and subsequent security crackdown this year alone.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s government says 5,000 police and soldiers will be deployed for the World Economic Forum on Africa, which begins on Wednesday.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the presidents of Rwanda, Senegal and Kenya will be among international as well as African figures at the forum.
While the official reason for closing all schools and government offices in Abuja is to ensure traffic flows smoothly, tightening security is also a likely reason.
Fewer vehicles on the roads should enable stricter searches and cut the number of potential targets for further bomb attacks, he adds.
“The government has taken the strongest measures to ensure a safe forum. We ask participants not to let terror win,” Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in a statement.
In a separate development, the US embassy has warned its citizens of a planned “unspecified attack” on one of two Sheraton hotels in Lagos.
The finance minister said the security measures were aimed at calming nerves but told Nigerian media the focus on returning the abducted girls to their families was “much more important”.
Boko Haram has not made any response to the accusation that its fighters abducted the girls from the school in Chibok town in the middle of the night on April 14.
Since the kidnapping, parents have criticized the government’s search and rescue efforts.
The police chief in Borno state has put the number of missing girls at 223 and has appealed to parents to come forward with photographs of their daughters to confirm who has been seized. According to the police commissioner, 53 of the girls are believed to have escaped.
It is thought that the militants initially took the girls to the Sambisa forest; there have been subsequent reports they have been taken over the borders into Chad and Cameroon and possibly forced to “marry” the insurgents.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), Iceland has been rated the country with the world’s smallest gender gap for five years in a row.
The rating means Iceland is the country where women enjoy the most equal access to education and healthcare. It is also where women are most likely to be able to participate fully in the country’s political and economic life.
Iceland is joined at the top of The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013 by its Nordic neighbors Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Overall, the gender gap narrowed slightly across the globe in 2013, as 86 of 133 countries showed improvements. However, “change is definitely slow”, says one of the report’s authors, Saadia Zahidi.
Europe has seven countries in the top 10 and the US is 23rd. The Philippines, at fifth, is the highest ranking Asian nation and Nicaragua is the highest-placed country from the Americas, at 10th.
The G20 group of leading industrial nations has no representative in the top 10, nor do the Middle East or Africa.
Top 10 countries:
7. New Zealand
The Global Gender Gap Report, 2013
Canada and the US come in at 20th and 23rd in the overall rankings. Both countries score well on education, where they are joint top alongside several other nations.
The US comes below Canada on politics, 60th to Canada’s 42nd place, but the US is ahead of its neighbour on economics, at sixth, and health, at 33rd, where Canada comes ninth and 49th respectively.
From Latin America, the three strongest-performing countries here are Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador, who all make the top 25 nations overall. Brazil’s position is unchanged from last year at 62nd.
“The health and education gap was closed here years ago. So it’s a continent ready to take off in terms of labor and political participation,” says Saadia Zahidi.
Northern European countries generally fare well compared with other countries. The WEF attributes this, in part, to policies that help people balance the twin demands of work and family life.
In southern Europe, the gender gap in education was reversed a number of years ago. However, there are lower levels of female participation in the workforce.
Middle East and North Africa is the region where some of the greatest gender inequalities exist. But the picture is far from uniform. For instance, the Gulf states have tended to invest heavily in female education, with a reverse gender gap taking place in the United Arab Emirates. Many more women than men are now finishing university here.
This contrasts with countries like Yemen, where levels of female education are very low.
Some of the Sub-Saharan African countries with the widest gender gaps can be found here; Chad and Ivory Coast all come close to the bottom of the overall rankings.
But southern Africa has some nations where a high level of labor force participation and political empowerment have helped bring them into the top 30 countries. Lesotho reaches 16th, South Africa is one place behind and Mozambique comes in at 26th.
In Asia, the Philippines stands out as the most equal country on the continent. This is down to closing the gap in health and education. The country also has a high level of economic participation, says the WEF.
China comes 69th overall, ahead of India at 101st. India’s low rank is due to poor scores from the WEF on education, health and economics.
How are the rankings made?
In order to compare relative gender gaps, the WEF creates an index from more than a dozen different sets of data. A score of one (or 100%) represents equality; zero (or 0%) represents inequality. Countries are then ranked on their results.