Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 334..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
Bank's ideas that, unless there is gender equality, there is very little economic progress in most countries. The World Economic Forum has launched its first study on the issue. It attempts to assess the size of the gender gap in 58 countries, using economic, educational, health and political base criteria. The index covers over 115 economies. I thought that people here would be interested in some of the rankings.
It turns out that no country in the world has yet managed to eliminate the gender gap, and the gender gap still has the male gender on top. Of course, when I say "male gender", I do not mean that all men manage to have higher incomes, more political power et cetera than all women. Indeed, we know that there are some women who have more of those things than some men. But the gender gap is as approximate a measure as we can get.
Those that have succeeded best in narrowing the gap are the Nordic countries. It is probably no surprise that Sweden stands out as the most advanced in the world, having closed over 80 per cent of its gender gap. This is followed closely by Norway, then Finland, then Iceland and then Denmark. The Nordic countries are way up there. The United Kingdom comes in at ninth and Ireland holds a spot in the top 10.
What is really interesting is that the Philippines, at No 6, has the distinction of being the only Asian country in the top 10. We know that the Philippines is a country of great poverty and one where many women have more children than they perhaps might choose due to restrictions on birth control. South Africa, at 18, holds the highest position among the African countries that are covered in the report.
Again, I think it is very interesting to reflect on the economic and social position of the countries that I am talking about. Latvia at 19 and Lithuania at 21 are some of the new EU members that rank high.
DR FOSKEY: There are some people who just do not want to know, are there not? Those countries remain behind Spain and the Netherlands. New Zealand comes in at seven. Australia comes in at 15. This is a creeping back, and it is not something that we can be proud of. At the other end of the rankings, Greece is No 69. France is at 70; Malta is at 71; and Italy, at 77, had the lowest rankings in the EU. The United States is at 22 and falls behind many European nations—in addition to lagging behind Canada at 14, Russia at 49, China at 63, and Brazil, which is somewhat in the middle.
There are some events on this week. Tonight, as people might be aware, the Pamela Denoon lecture is on. It is an annual event to commemorate Pamela Denoon, who died in the late 1980s or early 1990s. She was the original convenor of the Women's Electoral Lobby. Feminists in this town organised the lecture and also operate a trust. That is an event tonight. Sarah Maddison is speaking. Sarah Maddison has recently written a critique of the position of women in Australia since the election of the Howard government. Tomorrow night, I shall grace members with a summary of that lecture.
Mrs Dunne: Gee, I can hardly wait for that.