Canada ranks 35th on World Economic Forum gender gap list

Canada has come 35th — sandwiched between Luxembourg and Cape Verde — in the latest World Economic Forum annual report on gender-based disparities around the world.

Given current trends globally, women won't earn as much as men for 170 years, report says

Fans stand behind a large sign for equal pay for the U.S. women's soccer team during a match between the United States and Colombia in April 2016. The World Economic Forum says the global gender pay gap will not be closed for another 170 years if current trends continue. (Jessica Hill/Associated Press)

Canada has come 35th — sandwiched between Luxembourg and Cape Verde — in the latest World Economic Forum annual report on gender-based disparities around the world.

Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden are the top four countries on the WEF's Global Gender Gap index, which measures differences between men and women in economics, education, health and political empowerment among 144 countries.

The report says Canada has closed 73.1 per cent of the gender gap over the four factors it measured. The country slipped from 30th on last year's list.

The WEF said Canada's 2016 rank came despite a drop in female legislators, senior officials and managers from last year.

"Improvements have been made on political empowerment, with more women in parliament," the WEF said, adding that Canada's ranking would have been higher, but changes to cabinet have not been reflected in globally comparable data.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named a cabinet that had gender parity when the Liberals took power last year.

The WEF also said Canada's gender gap in educational attainment has been closed since 2013.

The U.S. placed 45th in the index, down from 28th in 2015, with the WEF pointing to a fall in the number of women participating in the labor force over the past year as a partial reason for the drop.

Yemen comes in last in the index, with the report finding that it has closed just over 51 percent of its overall gender gap.

The WEF says no country has fully closed its overall gender gap, but those in the top five, which includes four Nordic countries and Rwanda, have closed at least 80 per cent of theirs.

Even though Iceland finished at the top of the WEF's list, thousands of women in that country left work early on Monday to protest the gender pay gap there.

The women left work at 2:38 p.m., walking out 14 per cent early to draw attention to the gap, which was recently pegged at 14 per cent by Expert Market, a U.K.-based business information firm.

  The Switzerland-based WEF said economics and health are the most challenging disparities between men and women worldwide.

On the the economic divide, the report says that "at the current rate of change, and given the widening economic gender gap since last year, it will not be closed for another 170 years."

The report was more upbeat on the gender gap in educational attainment, which it says "could be reduced to parity within the next 10 years."

Canada ranks 25th on the global list in terms labour force participation with a female-to-male ratio of 0.91. 

Five countries — Mozambique, Rwanda, Laos, Burundi and Malawi — all tied for top position with a ratio of 1.00 because female labour force participation exceeds the male participation rate in each of those countries.

The WEF report found that the widest gap between the sexes is in political empowerment, but it says that significant progress has been made in narrowing that divide since its first gender gap report was released in 2006.

With files from The Associated Press