NEW YORK —
In Mexico, for instance, the task force is focusing on mentoring and supporting female-owned businesses. Mexico is 84th, Japan is 101st and Turkey is 124th in the 2012 rankings. Several other countries would like to be involved in this project as well, Zahidi said Wednesday at a press conference in New York.
"There are different things that need to be done in different places, but there's a lot that can be shared between countries and companies," Zahidi said.
At the conference, Zahidi said the small but persistent gap between women and men in the health and education categories is still problematic in countries like India, China and Afghanistan. Still, changes in political empowerment and economic participation tend to drive movement in the rankings, she said.
"The next set of changes need to be made in ensuring that women have equal access to positions of decision making and ensuring that both women and men can combine work and family so that we do see higher numbers of women participating in the economy," she said in an interview before the release.
The review looked at how countries divide resources and opportunities for men and women.
The Philippines came in eighth, the only country in Asia to have eliminated the gap in health and education. Nicaragua was in ninth place, up from 27th last year, helped by changes in the percentage of women in parliament and ministerial positions.
China and Japan fared slightly worse this year while India improved. China fell to No. 69 from 61, Japan slipped three slots to 101 and India moved up eight places to 105.
Spain dipped to 26th place after rising to 10th in 2007. Others in Europe — Germany, Belgium and Switzerland — maintained their positions in the top 15, with the Netherlands improving to 11th from 17th two years ago. Britain slipped to 18th place from 16th.