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Global Gender Gap Index


World Economic Forum, Harvard University & the University of California, Berkeley

Stated Purpose: 

To provide a framework  for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities around the world, by benchmarking national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and health-based criteria.

Area of Governance: 
Governance and Gender
Funding Source: 

World Economic Forum

Current usage: 

Used for the annually World Economic Forum's 'Global Gender Gap Report', and widely quoted in international media.

Type of data used: 

Quantitative data, such as national policies, and international statistics and survey data from ILO, World Economic Forum, UNESCO, CIA World Factbook, and IPU.


Country Coverage: 135 countries
Year Coverage: 2006 - present (updated annually)

Contact details: 

World Economic Forum Switzerland
91-93 route de la Capite,
CH-1223 Cologny/Geneva  

Contact Numbers:
Tel: +41 (0) 22 869 1212
Fax: +41 (0) 22 786 2744



The Index is designed to measure gender-based gaps  in access to resources and opportunities in individual  countries rather than the actual levels of the available  resources and opportunities in those countries. By conducting a quantitative analysis of the datathe Global Gender Gap Report ranks countries on their ability to close the gender gap in four key areas: 

  • Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation and highly-skilled employment
  • Education – access to basic and higher levels of education
  • Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures
  • Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio

The Global Gender Gap Index is constructed using a four-step process:
Step 1, all data are converted to female/male ratios. For example, a country with 20% of women in ministerial positions is assigned a ratio of 20 women /80 men, thus a variable of 0.25. This is to ensure that the Index is capturing gaps between women and men’s attainment levels, rather than the levels themselves.

Step 2, these ratios are truncated at the “equality benchmark”. For all variables, except the two health variables, this equality benchmark is considered to be 1, meaning equal numbers of women and men. In the case of the sex ratio at birth variable, the equality benchmark is set to be 0.944,  and the healthy life expectancy benchmark is set to be 1.06. To capture gender equality a one-sided scale that measures how close women are to reaching parity with men but does not reward or penalize countries for having a gender gap in the other direction, was used.

Step 3, involves calculating the weighted average of the variables within each subindex to create the subindex scores.

Finally step 4, the final scores are calculated. This is done by using an un-weighted average of each subindex score to calculate the overall Global Gender Gap Index score.

Format of results: 

In the case of all subindexes, the highest possible score is 1 (equality) and the lowest possible score is 0 (inequality), thus binding the scores between inequality and equality benchmarks.

Valid Use: 

The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them, thus the rakings are intended to serve as a basis for designing effective measures for reducing gender gaps. Furthermore, it provides country rankings that allow for effective comparison across regions and income groups and over time.

Invalid Use: 

Only captures inequality in certain aspects of women's lives, moreover,it is not constructed to provide an idea about the selected countries development level.

Example results: 

The Global Gender Gap Index 2012 rankings: comparisons with 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006