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Big Think’s Global Index of Women’s Power

While in many parts of the world today women enjoy greater power and opportunity than ever before, there are also places where women remain essentially powerless, lacking access to even basic education or human rights.

While in many parts of the world today women enjoy greater power and opportunity than ever before, there are also places where women remain essentially powerless, lacking access to even basic education or human rights. 

In consultation with leading universities and research groups, Big Think has created a composite country-by-country index by equally combining data from three recent international studies dealing with women’s power:

The World Economic Forum’s “The Global Gender Gap Report,” an index which measures national gender gaps using economic, political, education and health criteria.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Women’s Economic Opportunity Index,” which measures women’s economic opportunity and their ability to participate equally in the workforce.
The United Nations Development Programme’s Gender-Related Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), which rank countries based on gender-specific criteria like adult literacy, life expectancy and estimated income.

The numerical Power Quotient, which averages the results of these studies, is on a scale from zero to 100—with 100 being the best possible numerical score for female empowerment, and zero the worst. Yemen, the country where women have the least power according to the survey, received a score of 24.02 on our scale. Meanwhile Norway, which got a score of 88.75, was found to be the country where women have the most relative power.

The table below indicates where each country falls along our scale; move your cursor over each to find its Power Quotient. The off-white countries were not included in the survey because there was not enough information available about them. 

Power Quotient by Country

A key source of the research this index draws upon is the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2010 Report, which was released in mid-October.  Saadia Zahidi, a director at the World Economic Forum and co-author of the Gender Gap report spoke with Big Think shortly after its release.  She highlighted themes present in World Economic Forum report that also are present in Big Think’s composite index.  

“When we look at gaps, what we’re finding is that in the world as a whole, at least out of the 134 countries that we’re looking at, 96% of health gaps have been closed.  Ninety-three percent of education gaps have been closed,” says Zahidi.  Yet, she adds, “only about 59% of economic participation gap and only 18% of the political empowerment gap.”  Looking at these trends, Zahidi says that women are starting to be as healthy and almost as educated as men, yet this has not been translated into decision-making in either the economy or in government. 

As for the economic outlook, Zahidi says, “While for a certain segment of society, the idea of a man session may be true, it’s not true for other parts of society.”  The economic downturn is having effect on the global gender gap, says Zahidi, with fewer resources available for transformative programs such as women’s education and empowerment. 

Empowering women and collapsing the gender gap goes beyond remedying a wrong, says Zahidi.  As well, it can be a boon to economies.

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“It really does come down to girls’ education and investing in that because it has enormous multiplier effects,” she says.  

Appendix A – Big Think’s Women and Power Index (Raw Data)

Norway 88.75       Croatia 68 Jordan 56.62
Sweden 88.37 South Africa 67.66        Lebanon 56.54
Finland 88.08 Mexico 67.26 Armenia 56.14
Iceland 87.14 Korea 66.97 Bolivia 54.61
Belgium 85.32 Panama 66.87 Sri Lanka 54.42
Netherlands 84.43 Albania 66.12 Nepal 54.15
Denmark 84.1 Uruguay 65.42 Oman 54.14
Germany 84.05 Chile 65.38 India 53.09
New Zealand 84 Tunisia 65.2 Tanzania 52.91
Australia 83.29 Peru 65.04 Turkey 52.34
Canada 82.53 United Arab Emirates 64.44 Indonesia 52.21
Switzerland 81.14 Romania 63.96 Ghana 52.2
United Kingdom 80.5 Mauritius 63.47 Kenya 51.55
Spain 80.1 Brazil 62.93 Uganda 51.48
France 79.79 Bahrain 62.43 Azerbaijan 51.37
United States 79.7 Malaysia 62.38 Georgia 50
Ireland 79.43 Philippines 62.37 Cambodia 49.16
Portugal 78.39 Namibia 62.31 Syria 48.07
Luxembourg 78.28 Thailand 62.18 Benin 48.03
Austria 77.2 Russia 62.17 Senegal 47.03
Italy 74.76 Lesotho 61.94 Nigeria 46.46
Israel 74.54 Kazakhstan 61.9 Madagascar 46.02
Cuba 74.2 Kuwait 61.74 Morocco 45.73
Slovenia 73.74 Colombia 61.62 Zambia 45.65
Greece 73.61 Venezuela 61.56 Algeria 45.59
Czech Republic 73.46 Dominican Republic 61.28 Laos 45.14
Jamacia 73.16 Moldova 60.82 Cameroon 44.88
Estonia 72.95 China 60.74 Iran 44.26
Latvia 72.65 Honduras 60.57 Saudi Arabia 43.92
Lithuania 72.03 El Salvador 59.81 Burkina Faso 42.25
Poland 71.21 Qatar 59.76 Ethiopia 42.13
Bulgaria 71.18 Ukraine 59.27 Egypt 41.9
Singapore 71.12 Paraguay 58.92 Pakistan 41.47
Macedonia 71.07 Botswana 58.87 Côte d’Ivoire 40.79
Hungary 70.81 Nicaragua 58.06 Bangladesh 39.16
Slovaki 70.7 Ecuador 58 Chad 35.39
Cyprus 70.39 Maldives 57.86 Yemen 24.02
Argentina 70.09 Vietnam 57.53
Japan 68.71 Kyrgyz Republic 57.46
Costa Rica 68.29 Serbia 57.01

A century after International Women’s Day was founded to promote gender equality a stark gender gap still exists in the workplace in countries across the world.

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