Description: The Forum has undertaken this study to facilitate the work of governments, aid agencies and NGOs by providing a benchmarking tool to assess the size of the gender gap, ranking countries according to the level of advancement of their female population. The Gender Gap Report quantifies the size of the gender gap in 58 countries, including all 30 OECD countries and 28 other emerging markets. The study measures the extent to which women have achieved full equality with men in five critical areas: - economic participation - economic opportunity - political empowerment - educational attainment - health and well-being The study uses a large number of hard data indicators from international organizations as well as qualitative information from the Forum's own Executive Opinion Survey to create the rankings. "Countries can identify their strengths and weaknesses in an area that is of critical importance for development. They can also learn from the experiences of other countries in promoting the equality of women and men," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist of the World Economic Forum and Director of the Global Competitiveness Programme. The annual Survey, conducted by the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Programme, polled close to 9,000 business leaders in 104 economies worldwide in 2004. The survey questionnaire is designed to capture a broad range of factors central to creating a healthy business environment, including labour practices, the quality of the country's educational system, its infrastructure and general level of institutional development. The survey also provides rare information on issues such as child care availability and cost, the impact of maternity laws on the hiring of women, the prevalence of private sector employment of women and wage inequality.