U.S. Lags in Global Gender Gap Rankings

Yesterday, the World Economic Forum released the Global Gender Gap Report 2009 at the India Economic Summit. The United States is 31st. A quick glance at the rankings:

The 134 countries were evaluated on economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. 67% of the countries showed improved scores from 2008-2009, while 33% had deteriorated. The evaluation committee included Ricardo Hausmann, of Harvard University, Laura Tyson, a UC Berkeley professor and economic adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama, and Saadia Zahidi, a heavy-hitter at the World Economic Forum.
The most demoralizing result of this evaluation is not just the overall rank of the United States, but rather, our sub-category rankings in Political Empowerment and Health and Survival. America ranks 17th in Economic empowerment and 1st in Educational Attainment, but 61st in Political Empowerment and 40th in Health and Survival, behind Cambodia, Mexico, the Philippines, Venezuela, and Yemen.
America is among the 33% of countries whose conditions for women deteriorated from 2008 to 2009. While disheartening, the ranking is also unsurprising, given the recession’s disproportionate impact on conditions of living for women.
The numeric determinants of political empowerment included the ratio of women with seats in parliamentary bodies to men, the ratio of women at a ministerial level to men, and the ratio of the number of years with a female head of state vs. a male head of state. It’s no wonder that the U.S. won 61st place; Bangladesh, Nicaruagua, Uganda, Angola, Malawi, China, and Pakistan all foster more women political leaders than the United States.
This evaluation could speak to the fallacy of Sarah Palin’s single-handed empowerment of all American women; it’s evident that the 2008 election might not have had such a revolutionary effect on the status of women in the U.S. As the Women’s Campaign Forum reminds us we still witness the harassment and silencing of women in Congress.

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