Philippines tops in closing gender gap in Asia-Pacific

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippines is number one among Asia-Pacific nations in narrowing the gap between women and men, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said Wednesday.

The country retained its seventh spot out of 144 countries surveyed in the WEF's Global Gender Gap Report in 2016, it added.

The Philippines scored 78.6 percent out of 100 percent in 2016. This means it has nearly closed the gap in four key areas monitored by the report: Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Economic Opportunity and Political Empowerment.

"The Philippines maintains its respective ranking as the highest performer in the East Asia and the Pacific region, despite a slight decline in its overall score," the report said. The country scored 79 percent a year ago.

The WEF attributed the lower score in 2016 to a drop in the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex.

"Fewer female legislators, senior officials and managers, partly accounts for this fall," it said.

However it noted that "since 2006, the country has fully closed its gender gap on the Health and Survival subindex. It has also managed to fully re-close its Educational Attainment gender gap after a re-opening for the first time last year."

New Zealand is the only other Asia-Pacific nation in the global top 10, coming in at number nine.

"With the Philippines and New Zealand, the region is home to two of the overall Index's top ten performers, both having closed over 78 percent of their total gender gap," it said, citing the two countries' "strong scores" in the Political Empowerment index.

Regionally, the report noted the "stark contrast" of the rankings, "with a large distance between the most gender-equal societies such as the Philippines and New Zealand, and economic heavyweights China (99), Japan (111) and Korea (116)."

It will take 111 years before the Asia-Pacific region closes the gender gap due to "the sluggish pace of change in these larger nations," the WEF said.

The Nordic nations remain the world's most gender-equal societies with Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4) taking the top four spots. Number 5 is Rwanda, which overtook Ireland (6). The Philippines is next, with Slovenia hot on its heels (8). then New Zealand (9), and  Nicaragua (10).

Through this annual report, the Geneva-based WEF quantifies the disparities and progress of countries in closing the gap between the sexes. The foundation is a leading international non-profit for public-private cooperation.