The 2011 Global Gender Gap report was recently released by the World Economic Forum.  I read (some of) the 375 pages so you don’t have to (unless you like that kind of geek-fest!)

What I found most interesting is where the UK sits. We come in 16th, out of the 135 countries ranked – not too bad…What  surprised me most was some of the countries that “beat us”, like South Africa (in 14th place). 

ActionAid  works in countries like South Africa, to stop violence, sexual abuse and discrimination against women, and address the limited access to education, resources and work opportunities for women. 

For example, in this video, Elekanyani explains what she does to help women in her community with ActionAid’s support).

Of course, inequality is not just a problem for developing countries.

For example, 3 million women across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, trafficking, forced marriage or other violence each year and the fight for equal pay is a long way from being won.

But I thought I’d break down the statistics and see what it’s all means.

Inequality: not just a thing of the poor

One of the first things to note is that the report is ranking the gender gap.

Therefore, it doesn’t measure the opportunities women have (as women certainly have better access to resources and opportunities in the UK), but the gap between men and women in each country.

But this still doesn’t entirely explain the ranking difference. Broken down by category, it becomes a bit clearer.

In fact, South Africa ranks lower than the UK in three out of four categories that they base their ranking on: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, and health and survival.

The category the UK gets a particularly high score in educational attainment ranking joint 1st with a few other countries.

Political participation

However, it is on political participation that South Africa races ahead.

They score so highly on this category, that it brings them 2 places above the UK in the overall ranking. 45% of South Africa’s Parliament are women, which is one of the highest in the world.

Yet, in the UK men still make up nearly 80% of the House of Commons.

To put it in perspective, there are more Conservative MPs called Dave, Nick and Ed than women, and there are 4 times more millionaires in Parliament than women.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have calculated that at the current rate of change it will take 200 years to achieve gender parity in the UK Parliament!

See how far we’ve come in other areas, just in the past 60 years with our Facebook app which gives your profile a Life in the 1950s makeover.

So long as keep the pressure up, we can change things. Share the app and remind people how far we’ve come but how far still have to go!

Bollocks to inequality!

We're part of the EQUALS coalition, and over the next few weeks there is going to be a women's rights theme to our blog. Find out why here.

Feel inspired?

1. Use our Facebook app to give your profile a 1950s makeover

2. Donate £3 to our women's rights work - text EQUALS to 70300

3. Put on a Bollocks to Poverty event to celebrate International Women's Day