Singapore has the third smallest gender gap in South-east Asia, but it still loses to the Philippines and Laos: WEF Study

However, gender equality in Singapore is still higher than other South-east Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan.
The Business Times

A new study has found that women in Singapore are enjoying greater gender equality as compared with their Asian counterparts.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest report stated that Singapore has the third-smallest gender gap in South-east Asia, behind the Philippines and Laos.

However, gender equality in the Republic is still higher than other Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan.

Now in its 14th year, the report benchmarks 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four indicators designed to create global awareness.

They are: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.

Globally, Singapore placed 54th on the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index, with an index score of 0.724.

In comparison, the Philippines placed 16th with an index score of 0.781, while Laos placed 44th with an index score of 0.731.

Iceland took the top spot for the 11th year in a row, while Norway and Finland came in second and third respectively.

Singapore has 7th highest wage equality

Singapore’s scores for the economic indicator outperforms the global average, but its closer for the education and health indicators, and falls short in the political one.


The WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2020 stated Singapore is ranked 20th globally when it comes to economic participation and opportunities.

Singapore also had one of the highest scores for the sub-indicators of wage equality and estimated earned income, placing seventh and ninth respectively.

However, only 34 per cent of women hold senior roles in the workforce, whereas the figure for men is nearly double (66 per cent).

As for educational attainment, Singapore achieved gender parity in secondary and tertiary education enrolment.

But literacy rate equality – at 98.9 per cent for men and 95.9 per cent for women –  pulled the Republic’s global ranking for the indicator down to 84th.

Additionally, the Lion City ranked in the lower half of the countries studied when it came to political empowerment and health and survival, at 92nd and 133th respectively.

None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, WEF says 

WEF estimates that the overall gender gap will take an estimated 99.5 years to close.
WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2020

This year’s report states that the world “could do better” to bridge the gender gap, as global gender parity stands at 68.6 per cent.

This means that the overall gender gap will take an estimated 99.5 years to close, it said.

In terms of economic participation, WEF estimates that the gender gap will take a staggering 257 years to close. This is a sharp increase from an estimate of 202 years in last year’s report.

“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children,” the report added.

WEF attributes this to women’s under-representation in emerging roles such as cloud computing, engineering, and data and artificial intelligence (AI).

In order to address these deficiencies, the organisation recommends the creation of inclusive work cultures and the practice of diverse hiring.

Workforce strategies should also ensure that women are better equipped, in terms of improving skills or reskilling, to deal with the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Allen Blue, vice-president of product strategy at LinkedIn, which worked on the analysis with the WEF, said: “Our data shows that meaningful action is needed to build the systems and talent pipelines required to close the gender gap in tech and ensure women have an equal role in building the future.”

Read Also: