Gender disparities across the world are waning, slowly but surely. As a region, Latin America and the Caribbean is making that change at the fastest pace, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2014, released this week. Since its launch in 2006, the report has tracked countries’ progress towards gender equality in four key areas: health, education, economic participation, and political empowerment.
This year the report looked at 142 countries classified into six regions. Latin America and the Caribbean, taken together, has the third-best regional average, closing 70 percent of its overall gender gap, but also saw the greatest absolute increase of the regions from 2013. Additionally, only three countries in the report improved by a rate of 10 percent or more over the last year, and two were Latin American: Ecuador and Nicaragua. The latter ranked number six in the report’s top 10 countries closest to gender parity. Though the lowest-scoring in the region, Guatemala improved its global ranking more than any other country, with the largest increase in economic participation within Latin America and the Caribbean.
Given that women control 70 percent of global consumer spending, economic equality for women is an important step for the overall prosperity of Lain America. For instance, a study by McKinsey & Company in 2013 looked at 472 companies in six Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru) and found that those with one or more women executives had, on average, 47 percent more earnings before interest and taxes.
AS/COA Online puts the numbers in perspective.