Despite Progress, WEF Ranks Saudi Poorly on Gender Gap Index

Saudi Arabia was among the lowest-ranked countries on in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index, despite recently issuing new rules on women driving and other progress in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia placed 138th out of 144 countries.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic and social reform plans call for greater participation and empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia to achieve a more diverse economy and vibrant society. These changes are only now being enacted and coming into effect, so Saudi Arabia is set to improve drastically from its current position in coming years.

All other GCC countries faired poorly as well. Last on the list was neighboring Yemen, with the UAE best placed at 120th. Elsewhere in the Gulf, Bahrain was ranked 126th, Kuwait 129th and Qatar 130th. There was no score for Oman.

Saudi Arabia has actually made the most progress in terms of female economic participation since the report began in 2006. Admittedly it came from a low base, but proportionately it has been significant,” Saadia Zahidi, the WEF’s head of gender and education, told the English-language Saudi news outlet Arab News.

“We will only see the effect of the decision to allow women to drive next year, but you can expect that to be positive,” she added.