Ranking Women’s Equality in the Americas


The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012 indicated that Latin America and the Caribbean closed 69 percent of its gender gap, though challenges remain.

While gender inequality persists in Latin America, the region saw improvements in the past year. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2012 released October 24 details on how each Latin American country performed, as well as ranking 135 countries worldwide.

According to the report, “the Latin America and Caribbean region has closed 69 percent of its overall gender gap” and “performs well on certain indicators such as legislators, senior officials and managers, where ten out of the 20 best performers globally are from Latin America and the Caribbean.” The region fared better overall than the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Sub-Saharan Africa. But in terms of economic participation, it only performed better than the Middle East and Asia.

Nicaragua, ranked ninth in the world, came out on top as the most equitable country for women in the Americas, jumping 16 places from 2011. The Central American country ranked fifth in the world in terms of political empowerment, while coming twenty-third in educational attainment. However, it fared less well in economic participation and health.

Other top-ranking countries in the Americas include Cuba (19), Canada (21), the United States (22), Costa Rica (29), and Bolivia (30). Cuba has “a high proportion of women among professional and technical workers (60 percent). It is also the country with the highest percentage of women parliamentarians—45.2 percent—among the 135 countries covered.” The lowest ranking country in the Americas was Guatemala at spot 116. Honduras performed worst in Latin America in terms of labor force participation. Chile saw the largest ratings drop in Latin America, going from 46 last year to 87 this year. This occurred due to a decrease in the number of female ministers and poor performance in terms of wage equality.

Globally, Brazil and Colombia ranked in the middle at spots 62 and 63, respectively. Brazil jumped 20 spots since last year due to “improvements in primary education and in the percentage of women in ministerial positions,” which rose from 7 to 27 percent. The election of Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, also boosted the country’s political score. In addition, Brazil managed to close the gender gap in terms of education attainment and health, the report says. Colombia moved up 17 places since last year, also due to an increased number of women in ministerial positions as well as a rise in the income ratio. Mexico, which ranked 84, rose slightly over last year given a ten-point rise in women ministers to 21 percent. However, the country performed poorly in economic participation at spot 113.

Watch a video about the 2012 report, as WEF's Senior Director Saadia Zahidi, head of constituents discusses the results.

Read about how Peru fared in the ranking in a post from our Peru 2012 blog.