By YonasAsefa

ADDIS ABEBA – New World Economic Forum’s report says it will take 108 years to bridge the global gender gap in 106 of the world’s countries. The period is even higher in sub-Saharan Africa countries, the annual report says, indicating it will take an average of 135 years for them to close the gap.

The annual Global Gender Gap report monitors 149 countries’ progress towards achieving gender equality in the economic, political, education and health spheres.

After making progress on closing its gender gap for six consecutive years, sub-Saharan Africa’s gender gap has started to widen again, it says.

It’s not all bad news, however. Rwanda and Namibia made it into the top 10 countries for gender equality, placing at six and 10 respectively. Their progress can be attributed to the inclusion of more women in parliament and governing structures.

Ethiopia ranked at number 117 for the overall gender gap, coming in at No 52 for Political empowerment. However, it ranks only 137 for Educational attainment.

According to the WEF, there is a 32% disparity between men and women that needs to be closed on a global level. This may well take up to 108 years.

According to the report, the largest gender gap is in the political realm, with a global average of 77.1%. Out of the 149 countries assessed, only 17 have women as heads of state. On a global average, 18% of women are ministers and only 24% are parliamentarians.

In business, only 34% of women hold managerial positions in the assessed countries, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan identified as the worst performing with less than 7%.

The report reveals that Scandinavia rules in terms of gender equality. Iceland is the most gender-equal country, with about 85% of the gender gap already closed. Iceland is followed by Norway at 83.5% and Sweden and Finland at 82.2%.

There are still 44 countries where more than 20% of women are illiterate.

On average, 65% of girls and 66% of boys have enrolled in secondary education globally, while 39% of women and 34% of men are enrolled in tertiary institutions.

Despite rapid advancements in technology, only 22% of artificial intelligence (AI) professionals – seen as a key industry for the future – are women.

The most challenging gender gaps to be closed are the economic and political empowerment dimensions, which will take 202 and 107 years to close respectively. (Daily Monitor)