NEW YORK —
Most Arab nations are in the bottom quarter, with persistently low marks for political empowerment and economic participation. Those with the highest rankings in the region, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have made significant increases in women's education levels, according to the WEF report.
The United Arab Emirates ranked 107th, after being 103rd last year, while Egypt declined to 126th from 123rd. The bottom three in the rankings were the same as in 2011: Chad at 133rd, Pakistan at 134th and Yemen at 135th.
"With talent shortages projected to become more severe in much of the developed and developing world, maximizing access to female talent is a strategic imperative for business," said Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the WEF, in a statement.
At this year's WEF annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, women accounted for about 17 percent of the government officials, executives, economists and others who attended. The proportion increased from 9 percent in 2006 after an effort to attract more women. Zahidi said closing the gender gap at Davos faces an "external glass ceiling," as the conference reflects global leadership that remains male-dominated.
Zahidi's co-authors on the report were Laura Tyson, head of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton, and Ricardo Hausmann, director of Harvard University's Center for International Development.