Statistics just a year ago predicted the economic gap between genders could close in 118 years.
Statistics just a year ago predicted the economic gap between genders could close in 118 years, but progress has decelerated, stalled or reversed in nations around the world, the Swiss non-profit WEF said in its annual gender gap index.
"These forecasts are not foregone conclusions. Instead, they reflect the current state of progress and serve as a call to action," Saadia Zahidi, a member of the WEF executive committee, said in a statement.
Overall, Iceland and Finland ranked highest among 144 nations measured on progress in equality in education, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment.
Next were Norway and Sweden, followed by Rwanda, which has improved economic participation and income equality and has the highest share of female parliamentarians in the world, the WEF said.
At the bottom was Yemen, then Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, with a wide array of progress in between, it said.
The gap in political empowerment, it said, was particularly pronounced in the United States, which may soon elect its first female president. In most polls, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
The United States ranked 73rd in political empowerment, which measured the ratio of men to women in the highest levels of political decision-making, the WEF said. It ranked 45th in the global list overall.
Nations with significant political gender gaps stand to lose out, the WEF said in a 391-page report accompanying the index.
"In the political sphere, women's engagement in public life has a positive impact on inequality across society at large," it said. "In addition, there is a range of evidence to suggest that women's political leadership and wider economic participation are correlated."