Switzerland Lags Behind In Gender Equality Ratings

According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, Switzerland has fallen behind in its gender equality ratings. Switzerland currently is at the 11th place dropping marginally from the ninth place last year.

The report released by the Geneva based World Economic Forum depicted countries like Iceland topping the list, while Finland rates second, followed by Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The report observed 142 countries covering various aspects of labour; it looked at how nations distribute access to healthcare, education and political participation.

Many countries have closed the gap in gender equality yet still more progress needs to be made said Saadia Zahidi the report’s author.

Zahidi stated that there are 26% more female parliamentarians and 50% more female ministers globally than nine years ago. She commended this recent progress, yet she stressed the importance of integrating more women in the work force.

“These are far reaching changes,” she said. “The pace of change must in some areas be accelerated.”

Even though women in Switzerland have a relatively high participation in the work force, they are paid 59% of what men earn for the same work, compared to 74% in Iceland.

The World Economic Forum report stated that overall women are rapidly closing the gender gap with men in areas like health and education. Switzerland currently ranks tenth for women in governmental positions and first in the world for income and literacy.

The UN Weighs In

At the United Nations committee in Geneva, the Swiss government defended its gender equality record. The UN panel of experts said that they welcomed Switzerland’s progress and praised the country’s legislative reforms such as the 2013 law against forced marriages, along with an article in the criminal code banning female genital mutilation, and the creation of institutions and policy frameworks eliminating discrimination against women.

Nevertheless, the panel highlighted areas for improvement, the report recommended Switzerland to develop a national gender strategy. The panel emphasized several slip-ups stating that fewer women serve on executive boards and in other top management positions.

According to recent surveys women only occupy 6% of executive board positions a figure that remained stagnant since 2013, the number of women serving as university professors and judges is also remarkably low the panel stated.

Swiss Government Takes Action

Recent surveys have expressed concern that Switzerland has a prevailing gender gap in both public and private sectors, which continues to negatively impact women’s career development and pension benefits.

Women’s pension benefits in Switzerland are 37% lower than men’s; nevertheless the Swiss government has continued to fight pay discriminations. Many cantons and local communes have also signed a charter for equal pay in the public sector agreeing to raise awareness on the issue.

The Swiss government recently stipulated an agreement obliging companies with 50 or more employees to conduct pay gap analysis every four years and to submit it for review, the action remains voluntary as of now but that might possibly change in the future.