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Women still face gender gap for high-level jobs, wages: report

GENEVA -- Women are closing the gender gap with men in health and education but struggle to get top jobs and salaries, data from a study of 135 countries showed on Wednesday.

“Gaps in senior positions, wages and leadership levels still persist,” even in countries that promote equality in education and have a high level of economic integration among women, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said in its annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The new figures were released just hours after a European Union initiative to set a 40-percent quota for women on the boards of listed companies stalled because of a lack of support.

The report, which covered more than 90 percent of the world's population, looked at how nations distribute resources and opportunities between women and men.

It found that the Nordic countries, headed by Iceland, Finland and Norway, had done the best job of closing the gap, while Chad, Pakistan and Yemen had the worst rankings.

While almost all countries had made progress in closing the gap in health care and education between women and men, only 60 percent of countries had managed to narrow the economic gender gap and only 20 percent had progressed on a political level, the study said.

Of the top four global economies, the United States, Japan and Germany all made progress in closing their economic gender gap in 2012.

However, they slipped in the overall ranking, which also looks at health, education and politics, with Germany falling two spots to 13th place, the United States sliding five spots to 22nd, and Japan dipping to 101st from 98th last year.

China, which took a step backwards when it came to closing the economic gender gap, also fell in the overall ranking to 69th place from 66th last year.

Greece, which ranked 82nd, registered one of the biggest falls since 2011, when it ranked 56th — largely owing to a change in the percentage of women holding ministerial positions, from 31 percent in 2011 to only 6 percent in 2012.

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