EVEN THOUGH THE WORLD was far from reaching gender parity before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality is already tangible.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap report, more than 135 years will be needed for countries to close the gender gap, an increase of more than 35 years from the WEF’s 2020 report. Across the four sectors measured – political empowerment, economic participation, education and health – the greatest disparities are seen among political empowerment, a measure of gender parity within politics which takes into account political representation from the parliamentary level to heads of state, a gap that will take 10 years longer to close.

“Gender equality” is one of 76 metrics in the 2021 Best Countries report, where survey participants were asked how closely they associate that attribute with a nation. In 2021, the Netherlands was perceived as the most gender equal, followed by SwedenDenmarkCanada and Norway. The top scorers, based on perception, have high rates of women represented in politics, relative to the rest of the world, and some, particularly in the Nordic region, have been leaders in gender equality for decades.

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