Swiss gender parity ranking shows slow progress

Nordic countries took the top spots in the ranking with Iceland ranking first for the tenth consecutive year. Keystone

The Alpine nation has jumped one spot to 20th place in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018. But, Switzerland still shows major room for improvement in areas such as gender balance in leadership.

This content was published on December 18, 2018

Released on Tuesday, the Gender Gap report examines differences between men and women in areas of health, education, economy and politics for 149 countries. According to the report, the world has closed 68% of the gender gap but at its current pace, it will still take 108 years to close. 

Of the four pillars measured, only one – economic opportunity – narrowed its gender gap. This is largely due to a narrower income gap between men and women, which stands at nearly 51% in 2018, and the number of women in leadership roles, which stands at 34% globally. 

Switzerland’s top 20 finish in the 2018 ranking signaled an end to the declining trend: from 8th in 2015, 11th in 2016, and 21st in 2017. However, it scored the same amount of points at 0.755 (1.00 equal to parity) as the previous year. 

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The biggest strides were made in the domain of political empowerment where Switzerland’s score doubled when compared to 2006 – the year the report was first launched. This was largely due to the weighting given to the number of female heads of state, of which Switzerland has had 5. However, Switzerland’s rotating presidency among seven Federal Councillors can be difficult to compare to other countries. 

The country still shows a significant gender gap when it comes to women in parliament compared to many other Western countries where there are about half the number of women as there are men. Federal elections in October 2019 could change this ratio. 

Where Switzerland shows the greatest room for improvement is when it comes to economic participation, specifically the ratio of men and women in senior positions such as legislators, senior officials, and managers. Women make up 33.9%, a slight drop from 35.6% in 2017. Estimated earned income for women is $53,362 compared to $76,283 for men. 

+ Read more about Switzerland’s decision to require pay gap reporting

As in previous years, the Nordic countries took the top spots in the ranking with Iceland ranking first for the tenth consecutive year. Western Europe scored the highest among global regions while the Middle East and North Africa region scored the lowest.

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