Asia slips in gender equality ranking

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WEF said Switzerland's 10-place drop was due to a widening gender gap on the Political Empowerment subindex.

The annual report ranks 144 countries on its Global Gender Gap Index to see how they compare in terms of gender equality on four key dimensions: economic participation and opportunities, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

New Zealand was ranked ninth in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report for 2017.

The U.S. saw its ranking drop from 45th last year to 49th this year, mostly due to a lack of women in U.S. politics.

A total of 34 countries-four less than last year-have closed their health and survival gender gaps. While about 70 percent of Chinese women participate in the work force, they earn only 64% of men's wages.

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"The sex ratio at birth aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of 'missing women, ' prevalent in many countries with a strong son preference", the WEF said.

Other countries are making improvements.

Saudi Arabia has actually made the most progress in terms of female economic participation since the report began in 2006. On educational attainment, it maintained its joint first ranking.

So why the Swiss exception?

"In 2017, we should not be seeing progress towards gender parity shift into reverse", Saadia Zahidi, WEF head of education, gender and work, said in a statement.

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China has fallen in a global ranking for gender equality for a ninth year in a row, coming in at 100 among 144 countries despite decades of economic advances, according to an worldwide study.

Among the industries surveyed globally, large gaps were found in the availability of women talent for entry-level positions and the demand for hiring in industries, like manufacturing, and energy and mining, the talent pool of women graduates was found to be much larger than the demand for hires, it said.

No country has closed the pay gap, WEF said, using data from institutions such as the International Labour Organization, United Nations Development Programme and World Health Organization. That means women the world over are paid less and have fewer opportunities at work than their male counterparts.

"In some cases it's about awareness and cultural change that takes time to put in place but some of it is about very specific policies related to child care, school hours, paternity leave and maternity leave".

Statistics highlighted by the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper show that last year, 43.6% girls in Switzerland obtained a secondary school leaving certificate from an apprenticeship or academic high school compared with 33.1% of boys - a discrepancy that has strengthened over the past 15 years.

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However, this dominance does not translate into the workplace. One woman was dismissed while she was on maternity leave. "The disparity prevents women from working".

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