World Economic Forum- Gender Gap Report 2013: An Introduction

By John Oronte

In September of 2013, a survey by the Lancelet Global Health Journal found that out of a total 10,000 men from China, Bangladesh,  Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea, 1 out of every 4 had committed rape.

As horrifying as this statistic is, it plays into a much greater narrative about the status of women in Asia. IndiaPakistan, and even relatively developed OECD countries like South Korea, all suffer from systemic and non-systemic discrimination against women. The word "suffer" is an appropriate choice, given the paradoxical relative regional underdevelopment and the turn-of-the-century economic vibrancy in Asia. In order for these countries, many of whom Give2Asia works with, to reach a level of desired stability and development, women must be allowed to sustain higher levels of social participation.


In October the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a 388 page document that systematically ranked countries based on each nation's standard of living for women.The "Global Gender Gap Index" was first created in 2006 to capture the “magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities.” The rankings in the annually released report, measured by relative economic, political, educational, and health standards, promotes greater global awareness of challenges and opportunities created through gender inequality. In 2013, the report included 133 out of the 135 countries from the year prior, dropping Timor-Leste and Gambia for lack of available updated information. At the same time, the 2013 report was able to add new countries, which include Laos - a country that Give2Asia works with. In total 200 countries were included in the report.

One key determining factor in the global rankings is that the WEF focused on ‘gaps’ rather than ‘levels.’ In other words, the report focuses on the measurement of outcomes rather than process, and lastly ranks countries based on gender equality, rather than empowerment. However, many of Give2Asia's clients within its 24-country network operate in spaces where gender inequality is a tangible, detrimental challenge to societies' betterment. In a multi-part series, the Asian Philanthropy Advisory Network will leverage contacts in some of the countries ranked in the report to help depict a more robust understanding not just of why countries ranked the way the did in the Index, but what cultural components factor into gender discrimination, what women empowerment looks like in those countries, and what challenges still remain.

A brief rundown of the report looks like:

- Only 3 of the 24 countries Give2Asia works with made it to the top 50 in overall rankings; in the top 100, there were only 11

- The highest ranked Give2Asia countries were The Philippines (5), New Zealand (7), and Australia

- Afghanistan and Burma were not ranked in the report

- Interestingly, South Korea (111) and Japan (105) faired worse than Cambodia (104), Bangladesh (75), and Laos (60)

- While ranking poorly overall, coming in at 101, India has made progress since the report began being released in 2006

- Since 2006 Bangladesh (overall: 75, +.0578)  and Nepal (overall: 121, +.0575) have made the greatest strides in improving their overall respective national gender gaps

For more information about the report and the way it determined its global ranking system, you can view the document here.