The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Friday said countries around the world are making progress on gender equality, but legal discrimination and social norms are hampering advances.
In a report marking International Women’s Day, the 36-member organisation of mainly wealthy states said countries with higher gender equality benefited economically.
“The current level of discrimination reduces world income by 6 trillion dollars, or 7.5 per cent,’’ the OECD said in its 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index.
However, the organisation said, lower levels of discrimination were the result of long-term political and social investments in gender equality.
The report noted changing attitudes over recent years, with the number of women worldwide saying domestic violence was acceptable under some circumstances declining from 50 per cent in 2012 to 27 per cent in 2018.
Since the last edition of the report in 2014, 15 countries had criminalized domestic violence, 15 countries had banned the marriage of girls under the age of 18, and eight had legislated for gender balance in elected offices.
The report ranked 120 countries by their level of gender discrimination, which it found was on average lowest in Europe and highest in Africa.
The best-performing country was Switzerland, graded eight per cent on a scale of zero to 100 from least to most discrimination. War-torn Yemen had the worst result at 64 per cent.
Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa were not ranked, and neither was China.