Every year the World Economic Forum completes a Global Gender Gap index to find the rankings for gender equality amongst the countries of the world. This year, Ireland fell two places from sixth place last year, to eighth place this year, something that the country is taking very seriously. As Ireland, member of the European Union, has always worked hard to guarantee gender equality, publications and headlines amongst the news in Ireland are reflecting the countries opinion on this lower ranking, but what exactly will they do about it?
Ireland is among the ten best in the list that the WEF composed, in which they determine the ranks in gender equality as far as the gaps between women and men in education, health, the economy, and even politics. 142 countries are measured from top to bottom, to see how they compare as far as offering women as much of a chance, as is offered to men for healthcare, the chances to go to school, the chances to get a job and make equal pay, and the chance to even run in politics. According to Ireland publications, the country actually got brownie points for the two past female presidents of Ireland, Mary Robinson, who was the first female president in the country, and Mary McAleese. According to sources, all countries get extra points for the amount of females that have been head of state within the last 50 years.
Though ranking eighth on the list is actually quite an accomplishment, as some of the countries ahead of them have not always been known for major gender equality, the European Union recognizes that there is still much progress to be made on the issue. Since Ireland joined the EU in 1973 they have been following the EU’s hopes for a better outcome in the gender equality ranks. In fact, the EU has been working since the Treaty of Rome in 1957 to bridge the gap in gender inequality for all of the countries who are proud members of their organization. In an article, written on support for Irish women, the European Union mentions that the rights of women in Ireland have greatly improved over the years, since their joining, but that they realize there are still lapses in the treatment of women, that keep them from being able to work, run for elections, get higher education, etc. They state that major problems are: the balance between working and home life that women have to face, the abuse of women, and even the undervalue of their opinions for political decisions.
They European Union and Ireland have made it clear, since the release of the rankings, that they plan to continue to work on gender equality, ensuring that they will rank higher, eventually. The countries above them are Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Nicaragua, and Rwanda, while the lowest countries on the list are Yemen, Pakistan, Chad, Syria, Mali, and Iran. If Ireland wants to take the top spot, however, they are definitely going to have some competition.
The World Conference on Women in Beijing next year plans on “leveling the global gender playing field.” While other countries recognize that gender equality is going to take some work on their part too, all countries seem to be trying to rank higher on the list. If Ireland wants to rank higher, they are going to have to play hard. According to top leaders, gender equality is the key to having a successful economy, as countries where both men and women contribute, largely, seem to do better. Statistics also show that women who get a higher education can give their kids better education. Though Ireland has been working hard to provide gender equality, they still rank low on the list.
By Crystal Boulware