Kenya has made strides in closing its gender gaps despite Covid-19 setting back global progress to attaining gender parity by three decades.
Global Gender Gap Report 2021 by World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks Kenya 95th place, with a 0.692 score, an improvement from the previous ranking of position 109 with a 0.671 score.
Nevertheless, the pandemic partially re-opened gender gaps that had already been closed, taking backwards efforts to achieve gender parity by 36.1 years.
WEF projects that it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide, against the previously estimated 99.5 years.
The report tracked narrowing of gender gaps in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment across 156 countries.
On political empowerment, only 22 per cent of the gap had been closed, a setback from last year’s 24.7 per cent. It will now take 145.5 years to achieve gender parity in politics from the earlier projected 94.5 years.
Of encouragement is an improvement in the narrowing the disparities in economic participation and opportunity. Fifty eight per cent of the gap has been closed compared to 57.8 per cent in the past year.
Women and men could, however, wait longer for 267.6 years to see an equal participation in the development of their countries economy. Had Covid-19 not hit the world, the waiting could have settled at 257 years.
Despite the advanced progress made in closing the genders in education, the pandemic widened the gap by 1.1 per cent.
In WEF’s 2020 report, the world was 3.9 per cent away from achieving gender parity in education. Now, it has a five per cent mile to walk.
A step forward was, however, recorded in the health and survival area. The margin grew from 95.7 per cent in the previous year to the current 96 per cent.
“For both education and health, while progress is higher than for economy and politics in the global data, there are important future implications of disruptions due to the pandemic, as well as continued variations in quality across income, geography, race and ethnicity,” WEF warns.
Overall, Iceland and Finland have closed at least 85 per cent of their gaps. Iceland leads with a 0.892 score followed by Finland with a 0.861 score.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia and Rwanda are the front runners.
Namibia is ranked sixth with a 0.809 score and Rwanda, seventh having achieved 0.805 score in ending gender disparities.
The closer the score to one, the closer the country is to closing the gender gaps.