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    Belgium in the top five of the OECD gender equality table

    © Belga
    © Belga

    Belgium has ranked fifth in the 2019 OECD gender equality table. The country comes joint fifth out of 120 countries, along with Portugal. Switzerland is the gender equality champion, according to the 2019 SIGI (Social Institutions and Gender Index). The Index is measured and analysed by the OECD’s development centre. The top five also includes Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd), and France (4th). 

    The OECD — the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development — gathered data from 180 countries to create the table. They looked at legal and informal norms in various areas such as familial discrimination, physical safety, access to resources and civil freedom. Only 120 were included, as there wasn’t enough data for the other 60. 

    Belgium came top of the previous table, in 2014. The shift downwards is mostly because the countries now above Belgium, with the exception of France, didn’t receive a score last time. The 2019 OECD Index shows that some discriminatory laws and social norms remain and still present a challenge for women and girls. Political promises, judicial reforms and programs aimed at creating better equality between the sexes have not yet led to real change. “Discrimination between the sexes still exists and is difficult to combat”, says the OECD. 

    Since the previous Index, 14 more countries have made domestic violence a crime and 15 have scrapped the exception for when girls can legally get married. “In 2018, 16% of adolescents girls aged between 15 and 19 were married before their 18th birthday. At this rate, it will take more than a century to eradicate child marriage”, says the OECD. 

    Iran and Pakistan are right near the bottom of the table, with Yemen in last place. 

    Maria Novak 
    The Brussels Times