TALLINN - According to the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report for 2009, women earn 40 percent less, on average, in comparison with men in doing the same job in Estonia. The latest statistics showed that Estonia ranks 98th for wage equality for similar work among 134 countries which were surveyed for the report.
The report measures the size of the gap between women and men in five critical areas including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, as well as health and survival, based on UNIFEM's (United Nations Development Fund for Women) finding of global patterns of inequality between men and women.
According to the survey, Latvia and Lithuania came out better than Estonia, ranking 71st and 88th, respectively. Lithuania's weakness in the survey comes from lower ratings in educational opportunities and political empowerment of women.
Some experts say that separate research shows that Estonian nationals who speak the state language suffer less than the rest of the population, which includes both first and second generation immigrants. The gender pay gap is larger among non-Estonians. Some 29 percent of Estonian women earn less than men do, compared to 35 percent among non-Estonians; at the same time men also earn 15 percent less if they are not Estonian.
Bright spots in the Gender Gap Report are the Nordic countries, which hold the top five positions in the rankings, with Sweden leading the way. Across the five categories examined, Nordic countries hold an impressive 19 positions in the top ten. This includes their high scores in the areas of health and well-being, educational attainment and political empowerment. Indeed, with scores ranging from 1 to 7, with 7 representing maximum gender equality, the Nordic countries are the only ones in the sample whose total scores are above 5.
According to Augusto Lopez-Claros, chief economist and director of the Global Competitiveness Program at the World Economic Forum, the forum has undertaken this study in order to facilitate the work of governments, aid agencies and NGO's by providing a benchmarking tool to assess the size of the gender gap in these countries, ranking them according to the level of advancement of their female population, and identifying successes and failures, based on economic, political, educational, and health-based criteria.
"Our aim is mainly to allow countries to identify their strengths and weaknesses in an area of critical importance for the development process and to provide opportunities for countries to learn from the experiences of others that have been more successful in promoting female and male equality," said Lopez-Claros.