What regions have made the most progress in achieving gender equality, and where has progress being slow? Key findings include the following:
- As the world’s poorest region, Sub-Saharan Africa is performing poorly on many gender equality indicators. For example, it has the highest rates of maternal and newborn mortality, and also the lowest proportion of deliveries attended by skilled health personnel.
- Latin America and the Caribbean is the world’s most unequal region and there are large inequities between social groups, including between men and women. Nevertheless, progress has been made in expanding girls’ access to education and in legislation to protect women’s equality (EIU, 2012).
- Every country in Europe and Central Asia improved its score on the Women’s Opportunity Index between 2010-2012 (EIU, 2012). This region performs best on all measures of gender equality.
- In the Middle East and North Africa, high reproductive rates, discriminatory social norms and laws designed to ‘protect’ women restrict their freedom, mobility and economy opportunity. Women are disadvantaged in the workplace. Social and cultural norms mean that cases of violence against women rarely reach court (EIU, 2012).
- Southern Asia has performed worse than any other region on a number of gender indicators. Women are often restricted from working outside the home, and the female labour participation is particularly low at between 29-30 per cent (EIU, 2012, p. 18). Southern Asia together with Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 86 per cent of all maternal deaths in 2013 (UN Women, 2015, p. 16).
- Several countries in Eastern Asia are performing well and improving their scores on the Women’s Opportunity Index. The female labour force participation rate in this region is relatively high at 64 per cent (EIU, 2012, p. 18). Women are more likely than men to be engaged in vulnerable employment.
- All countries in the Pacific region perform below the global average on gender indicators. The overwhelming proportion of the population lives in rural, isolated villages, and has limited access to basic health and education services (EIU, 2012).