By Paul Purcell
A slight decrease in the pay gap along with a world-best education system for women has helped New Zealand return to the top 10 of a global list ranking gender equality.
New Zealand rounded out the top 10 of an annual World Economic Forum's report after slipping to 13th last year, with female educational attainment coming up trumps for the eighth consecutive year.
The Global Gender Gap Index grades countries on the gap between men and women on economic participation and opportunity, education, health and survival, and political empowerment.
New Zealand matched or improved scores across all four categories, but its ranking fell in the health and political sectors.
Its overall score was 0.782 with 1 equating to parity.
The report, now in its tenth year, outlined the global progress towards gender equality with education and health improvements almost at parity with male counterparts.
But women earn US$10,000 less than men on average while accounting for less than a fifth of political representation.
Only half of the 145 countries surveyed have had a female head of state.
"According to the current rates, reaching parity could take a century or more," the report revealed.
"However, as many of the measures that are expected to help accelerate change - from paternity leave policies to boardroom targets - have only been implemented in the last few years, they may take some time to bear fruit."
"Furthermore, 10 years ago the same level of social awareness did not exist around the issue of gender equality and the current momentum gives cause for hope of faster change."
Nordic countries dominated the top of the rankings with parity scores above 80 percent, taking out the top four spots while other comparable countries such as the United Kingdom (18th), the United States (28th) and Australia (36th) all have much improving to do to narrow the gap.
Closing the gender gap – The Top 10 (from World Economic Forum)
10. New Zealand