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South Africa and Lesotho top gender equality list

South Africa and Lesotho top gender equality list


The World Economic Forum posted the 2009 Global Gender Gap Report today, its yearly survey of gender inequality based on economic, political, educational and health factors.  For the first time, two African nations entered the top 10 rankings:  South Africa at #6 position (up from #22 in 2008) and Lesotho in the #10 slot (up from #16 in 2008).

The increased ranking for South Africa is due to increases in parliamentary and ministerial positions for women under the new government. Lesotho holds its strong position thanks to its lack of gender gap in health and education services.

These advances for South Africa may come as a surprise to many who feared for women’s empowerment in South Africa following the May election of President Jacob Zuma, a practicing polygamist and accused rapist.

The World Economic Forum reports that two thirds of countries surveyed have made reduction in their gender gaps since 2006. However, the United States fell four spots since last year, coming in at #31 on the list. It looks like the death of macho due to the global recession may not be occurring as quickly as some expected. In any case, the United States is not alone in its loss of gender equality; Germany, the United Kingdom and France also saw declines in their rankings since last year.

Unsurprisingly, the bottom of the list remained largely unchanged from last year with Yemen, Chad, Pakistan, Benin, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran continuing to boast the world’s worst gender gaps.

ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images