Report: Qatar closing gender gap, but politics still a men’s club

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Santiago Sanz Romero/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar is among the best countries in the Middle East for women when it comes to equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest gender gap report.

The Gulf country, along with the UAE and Algeria, made great strides this year by closing some 64 percent of its gender gap, the WEF said.

But Qatar is still only 119th out of 144 countries in the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index.

Minister of Public Health Hanan Al Kuwari

HMC

Minister of Public Health Hanan Al Kuwari, the only female minister out of 14 Cabinet members

This is in part because it continues to be among the worst nations for female political involvement, the WEF said.

The index ranks countries on the gap between women and men on health, education, economic and political indicators. It said this year that “all countries can do more to close the gender gap.”

Qatar scored comparably to last year, when it ranked 122 out of 145 nations in the 2015 report.

What’s new

But in a change from last year, all Gulf countries ranked behind Qatar, with the UAE at 124th, Kuwait 128th, Bahrain 131st, Oman 133rd and Saudi Arabia near the bottom at 141st.

Qatar was also lauded for narrowing its female labor participation gap in the past several months.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Fadi Benne

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Some 54 percent of women are now working, while 95 percent of men in Qatar do so, the WEF said.

However, the country still ranked 122nd in the world for this subject, because its female to male ratio is 1:2 – meaning men continue to make up the majority of the population.

Qatar did much better in terms of wage equality, scoring ninth in the world, just behind the UAE.

Its health and survival and education attainment categories also show parity between men and women.

Politics

But Qatar ranked at the very bottom of the table (144th) in terms of political empowerment for females.

Last year, Qatar had only one female cabinet minister, Dr. Hessa Al Jaber. However, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology no longer exists in Qatar.

That said, the Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Al-Kuwari is now the country’s only current female minister following a reshuffle in January.

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