Countries in the MENA region, including in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf, have once again scored low on this year’s Gender Gap Index, released this week by the World Economic Forum.
According to the report, which evaluates countries based on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria, Arab countries collectively fell in the rankings since last year:
“The Middle East and North Africa is the only region not to have improved its overall standing in 2013. The highest placed country in the region is the United Arab Emirates (109th), which has achieved parity in education. Nevertheless most countries in the region, including Bahrain (112th), Qatar (115th) and others are still failing to adequately capitalize on the investments in education through greater economic and political contributions from women…”
Qatar’s overall score has improved slightly since being included in the index in 2007, when it was ranked 109th out of 128 countries. Though its ranking has dropped to 115th this year, the index now includes 136 countries.
Iceland, Finland and Norway kept their rankings as the top three nations with the narrowest gender gaps. The worst included Syria, Chad, Pakistan and Yemen.
Qatar fared particularly well in offering equal educational opportunities to women. But while economic participation is rising, it has a widening gender pay gap.
And with only one woman serving on the Central Municipal Council, and only one woman as a minister, the nation falls down when it comes to political empowerment of females, according to the index.
The report also groups and ranks countries by their income levels. All of the GCC countries, with the exception of Bahrain, are near the bottom of the high-income group list.
Though the UAE fared best in the region, it still dropped two places, due to issues with wage equality. Kuwait came in at 116th, Oman 122nd, and Saudi Arabia 127th.
The report’s release comes just as activists in Saudi Arabia canceled a much-anticipated “drive-in” campaign to challenge the ban females face on driving in the kingdom. Though the country has no laws prohibiting women from driving, they are not granted driver’s licenses and can be pulled over and ticketed for doing so.
Citing threats from the government, organizers of the Oct26 driving effort (whose website has been hacked) opted to make their campaign open-ended. Despite this, more than 60 women reportedly got behind the wheel yesterday in defiance of the driving ban, Al Jazeera English reports.
Meanwhile, a video satirizing the driving ban, which was produced by a few Saudi men, has gotten more than a million views on Youtube since it was posted yesterday:
As countries work to close their gender gaps, the WEF reminds leaders that the extent of women’s participation could hold widespread implications for future competitiveness and therefore, success:
“Countries will need to start thinking of human capital very differently – including how they integrate women into leadership roles. This shift in mindset and practice is not a goal for the future, it is an imperative today,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
This story is a real surprise. I never would have even imagined this was the case. Truly shocking.
As a general rule if the number of genders in your country that is allowed to drive is less than two, then you live in an awful country.
Driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia is pretty stupid in my opinion.
there’s no law stating a woman cannot drive in KSA its just a cultural thing.
That is correct, there is no law banning women from driving. However it is impossible for them to get a driving licence and driving without a licence is illegal, hence it is a defacto ban
@Qatari; Cultural? Or Religion?
If anyone tells you it’s religion, ask them to prove to you that women weren’t allowed ride camels, horses, etc. during the time of the Prophet (SAW).
I like it.Forgive me if I am wrong, but your reasoning might apply to some other situations or things that were not around at that time, and might apply to any religion.
cultrual but some extremist drag it into religion.
In my opinion, I think it is double standard. From what I have witnessed in the MidEast, the Culture is imposed forcefully upon the Ladies under the banner of ‘Religion.’ Thus, the Religion is frowned upon and depicted as a oppressive regime. The Culture contradicts the Religion. From my readings and analysis, Islam a somewhat beautiful peace loving Religion that Unites all bodies. However, the people are something else. On a closing note; I do admire the Islamic Culture. Nonetheless, we are all equal in the sight of God. Respect and Tolerance is a must in all Societies, whether they be Christian or Moslem or an Atheist.
Can’t be religious, there was no cars or trucks around at the time of Mohd and according to the purists you have to take the Koran literally. This is just a society, (men) imposed rule that has no basis in sharia or law in Saudi.
You don’t think people of the 3rd gender should be allowed drive? Live and let live I say 🙂
as the old generation dies out, hopefully we will see a rise in womens economic and political participation
Gosh, how very unexpected, a headline that is realistic and reflects the report findings, not a hyped-up take, as seen in UAE English language papers.
In other news, water is wet. The video rocks though. Maybe we’ll see a new genre, rasta saudi?
I love my country. Norway. Richest country in the world, most developed, absolutely full of nature and beauty and also one of the most gender equal.
I love reading this website to laugh at how backward muslim countries are.
you should really check your information:
1. Qatar is the richest country (alhamdullilah) [norway comes 3rd ;)]
2. yes thanks to god Norway is a beautiful country
3.We have enough gender equality
4. and the only thing that goes backwards are our bently’s and lamborghinis 😉
you can laugh all you want and while you’re trolling behind your computer, we’re living a peaceful beautiful life alhamdullilah 🙂
peace and love from your brother from Qatar 🙂
and the only thing that goes backwards are our bently’s and lamborghinis..ha ha ha,love it!
What is enough gender equality? Should you not just have gender equality? Is there a certain acceptable amount? I would say 100% is good.
we follow the teachings of islam where it specifically talks about females and their rights.. so it may not equal exactly with men but theres a reason for it depending on the subject.
so sad to see a nice and developed country like Norway produced a racist bigot like you
I just read that Norway is not only the richest country in the world, most developed, absolutely full of nature and beauty and also one of the most gender equal.
But also high in racism, now…I wonder how developed is your brain to be such a racist.
I love showing and laughing how perfect Scandinavia has backward people like you.
From a Christian Greek…and yes you can start about greek economy etc….learn about culture my friend and we will see half your country on our Islands next summer!
Not to defend the poster’s comments, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Norway, and it’s a beautiful country with very kind people. It’s certainly less stressful living than in Qatar–less poverty (due to a smaller rich-poor gap), more confidence in the government, and generally happier people than in most countries.
i am sure it is plesant to live in Norway and nice and respectfull people.
I just cannot stand racist no brainer like that guy
Fair enough. I just thought I’d throw out a defense of Norway in order to emphasize the poster was not typical of its people.
I find it funny that someone claiming to be from Norway has no better pastime than to come to a local news blog to tell us how much better he feels about himself / herself when comparing Norway to Qatar. Unless of course you’re not from Norway (whaaaaat!)
it makes no sense that in full century XXI women of Qatar do not have their rights and fredoms women are fundamental to be sustainable development of Qatar