These are the best countries in Asia for a woman to live
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These are the best countries in Asia for a woman to live

THE Philippines is home to paradise beaches, a deadly war on drugs and Islamic militants in its south.

It’s also the best Asian country to live in if you’re a woman.

A new report from the World Economic Forum has found the Southeast Asian country to be the most gender-equal country in Asia in its annual Global Gender Gap Index.

The index ranks 144 countries based on how they perform in four “pillars”: economic participation and opportunity, education, political empowerment, and health and survival. It uses data from the world’s most respected institutions, like the International Labour Organization, the UN Development Program and the World Health Organization, as well as WEF’s own perceptions survey.

On health, it looks at the sex ratio at birth and how both genders fare in terms of years lost to disease and disability. In education, literacy gaps as well as primary, secondary and tertiary enrolments, are considered.

SEE ALSO: Pakistan, Afghanistan are top 2 worst Asian countries for girls to get education

Economic participation is analysed by how many women vs men are making it into the workforce together with their wages and the ratio of women in leadership and technical roles. To gauge political empowerment, the report looked at gender gaps in Parliament, ministerial levels and how many women are heads of state.

This year, Nordic countries took the top three spots: Iceland, Norway and Finland closing at least 82 percent of its overall gender gap. That’s the good news.

The bad news is the global gender gap is worsening again – this is the first time it’s happened ever since the WEF started tracking gender-based disparities in 2006. It would take 100 years to close this gap at the rate it is going.

And while Asia has made great strides in the global economy,  progress for equal opportunity between the sexes in the region’s largest economies still limps behind many.

This is depressing to know, but if you’re a woman in Asia, you can take solace in the fact that certain countries in the Asian continent fare better than the global average.

These are the top five best-performing ones on the continent:

1. Philippines (10th globally)

Overall, it’s closed 79 percent of its gender gap and is the only developing country to make it into the global top 10. The education gap is fully closed in the Philippines, sharing the top spot globally with  countries with much higher income, like Finland, Slovenia and Ireland.

However, Filipino women are increasingly not getting paid equal to men for similar work, and the country also re-opens a Health and Survival gender gap for the first time since 2006.

2. Kazakhstan (52nd globally)

The only Central Asia in the top five has a gender gap of 71.3 percent. It’s in the world’s top 50 in the Health and Survival as well as Educational Attainment categories. But progress on
closing its gender gap in ministerial representation is getting worse.

3. Mongolia (53rd globally)

The country that gave birth to the Eagle Huntress has the same gender gap as Kazakhstan (71.3 percent) but is one rung lower thanks to its poorer performance in the Economic Participation, Educational Attainment and Political Empowerment. It is, however, one of the three countries in the East Asia and Pacific region that have fully closed the gap in the the Health and Survival subindex.

4. Laos (64th globally)

Things don’t look so good for the women of Laos compared to two years ago. There is a “noticeable widening” of its gender gap after making good gains two years ago, according to the report. The main causes for this decline? Wages and literacy – both regressed for Lao women and girls. The upside is that the Lao workforce is now equally balanced between the two sexes (for the second year running) – one of only five countries (and the only non-African one) to do so.

SEE ALSO: What are the most dangerous megacities for women in Asia?

5. Singapore (65th globally)

Rejoice, Singaporean women as the city-state is continuing its multi-year trend to achieving near-100 percent equality in technical and professional workers. Performance in the Health and Survival category is ticking up as well, as healthy life expectancy rises in the Asian Tiger country.

These triumphs are unfortunately marred by its downhill performance in paying women lesser than their male counterparts. Overall, Singapore also fell 10 places from its spot in last year’s index.

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