Maputo — Mozambique is the third best country in Africa in terms of equality between men and women, according to the 2013 edition of the Gender Gap Report, published by the World Economic Forum.
Like the United Nations Human Development Report, countries are ranked on a scale between zero and one. The best place in the world to be a woman, according to this report is Iceland, which has a score of 0.8731. The next three places are all occupied by Nordic countries - Finland (0.8421), Norway (0.8417) and Sweden (0.8129).
At the bottom of the table of 136 countries are places where women's rights are routinely trampled upon - Yemen is in position of 136 with a score of 0.5128. Immediately above it is Pakistan (0.5469), Chad (0.5688) and Syria (0.5661). Certain countries that are notorious for their abuse of women, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, are not included in the index at all.
Mozambique appears in 26th position, with a score of 0.7349. Only two African countries have a better score than Mozambique - Lesotho (16th - score 0.7530) and South Africa (0.7510).
Thus, according to the WEF, Mozambique has a similar level of gender equality as the United States (in 23rd position, with a score of 0.7392), and women are doing better in Mozambique than in several European countries - such as Spain (30th - 0.7266), France (46th - 0.7089), Portugal (51st - 0.7056), and Russia (61st - 0.6983).
Mozambique's score in the index has slipped slightly - in 2012, it was ranked 23, with a score of 0.7350.
The index takes four areas into account - economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. These form four sub-indexes, ands 14 indicators were used to draw them up.
These include the ratio of women to men in the work force, wage equality (or inequality) between women and men for similar work, male and female literacy rates, the ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education, and male and female life expectancy. The political indicators are the ratio of women to men in parliament and in government.
When the sub-indexes are looked at, it can be seen that Mozambique does very well in terms of women's economic participation and political empowerment, but relatively poorly in health and education.
In the economic participation sub-index, Mozambique is in 11th position, with a score of 0.7897. In the political empowerment sub-index, Mozambique, thanks to its large contingent of women in parliament, is in 18th position.
Its score in this sub-index, however, is only 0.3533. This shows how far women still have to go in politics in most countries - two of the countries surveyed, Brunei and Qatar, have the lowest possible score of zero in this sub-index.
In educational attainment, Mozambique is ranked at 124, with a score of 0.8355. This is the sub-index where 25 countries (including Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia) have the perfect score of one, indicating that they have no gender gap at all in educational attainment. This does not necessarily mean that women are anywhere near power - Botswana's score in political empowerment is near the bottom, at 0.0353.
In the health and survival sub-index, Mozambique is ranked 112 - but with a high score of 0.9612. This is because most countries do well in the male versus female life expectancy indicator. Even the lowest ranked country, Azerbaijan, scores 0.9254.
The gender gap index rankings and scores for the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region are as follows:
1. Lesotho (16th position, 0.7530)
2. South Africa (17th, 0.7510)
3. Mozambique (26th, 0.7349)
4. Malawi (39th, 0.7139)
5. Namibia (44th, 0.7094)
6. Madagascar, (56th, 0.7016)
7. Tanzania (66th, 0.6928)
8. Botswana (85th, 0.6752)
9. Angola (92nd, 0.6679)
10. Mauritius (98th, 0.6599)
11. Zambia (113th, 0.6312).
Four SADC members - Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Democratic Republic of Congo and Seychelles - are not covered by the report.