Cyprus bottoms out in gender equality poll

CYPRUS RANKS near the bottom of 115 countries worldwide, and the last of the EU 25 in its efforts to close the gender gap, a new survey revealed yesterday.

Jamaica, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Thailand, Mongolia, Albania, Mexico and Malawi all rank ahead of Cyprus, which is placed 85 out of the 115 countries surveyed.

The report concluded that women in Cyprus had only a four per cent chance of rising to leadership in the business world on the island.

The ranking, called the Gender Gap Index, covers 90 per cent of the world’s population and was compiled by researchers from Harvard University, the London Business School and the World Economic Forum.

The index measures gaps between men and women in four areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. By quantifying differences between the sexes in access to resources or opportunities, rather than measuring absolute levels, the researchers sought to strip out the impact of economic development.

No country in the world has achieved equality of the sexes in the key areas of education, health, employment and politics, according to the report.

Sweden has gone farthest in eliminating inequality between men and women, followed by Norway, Finland and Iceland. The Philippines is the only Asian country in the top 10 and the United States comes in at 22.

Saudi Arabia is last with zero.

“Greece (69), France (70), Malta (71), Italy (77) and Cyprus (85) have the lowest rankings in the EU,” the report said.

“The rankings reflect low levels of political participation by women in decision-making bodies and generally poor scores in terms of economic participation and opportunity in these countries”.

The section of the report on Cyprus showed that the average income of men in Cyprus was $25,260 compared to $11,864 for women, only 18 per cent of women were legislators, senior officials and managers while 47 per cent of professional and technical workers were women.

Seventy-one per cent of men were part of the labour force, and 54 per cent of women.

Enrolment in schools was equal for male and female in primary schools, but more girls go to secondary school than boys. The trend then reverses with one per cent more boys than girls going on to third level education.

A similar trend was obvious in terms of teachers. In primary education 83 per cent were teachers, in secondary 60 per cent and in third level only 42 per cent are women.

Women in parliament only constituted 14 per cent of total legislators in Cyprus. There are no female government ministers and has never been a woman head of state, the report noted.

“Women have been empowered to participate in the labour force, but not in politics,” said Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard University, one the authors of the report.