Still A Man’s World?

Is it possible that in the twenty-first century women's political equality is still not on parity with that of men? Yes, says the 2006 Global Gender Report by the World Economic Forum. In fact, as the WEF's analysis shows, in an examination of 115 countries around the globe, women only hold 15% of the political empowerment endowed to men. Troubling to think about when one considers that women represent over 5 billion of the world's population.

The report would seem to urge women to travel north, where despite the seemingly harsher climate, economic and political opportunity abound. The Nordic countries not only boast a long-standing tradition of political empowerment, but equality in economic participation and opportunity, education and health. As Globe and Mail explains, "Nordic Europe is the guiding light for gender equality in the world, topping a global list of 115 countries and laying claim to the world's best maternity leave, the best political participation rates and an education system in which women now outnumber men."

Where does the United States rank? Twenty-ninth, lagging behind many European nations and Canada (Number 14). Although the US shows strong equality in economic participation and opportunity, it ranks 66 out of the 115 nations on political empowerment with 15% of women in congressional and legislative positions, 14% in governmental leadership positions and no history of female leadership in the executive office. Think about it, Nancy Pelosi is the first American woman to take on the position of Speaker of the House.

Equality in all of WEF's criteria is increasingly grim in parts of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Yemen, at the ranking of 115, is the only nation that is yet to close even 50% of its gender gap.

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