In a gender world cup, Latin American countries will not reach the final, why?

In a gender world cup, Latin American countries will not reach the final, why?

Picture of Hassel Fallas

Hassel Fallas

Data analisys and visualization

Picture of Karol Quesada

Karol Quesada


Wednesday, November 21, 2022

If instead of soccer, Qatar 2022 were about a global human development cup for women, the six countries representing Latin America would have no chance of reaching the final because, compared to their rivals, they still have a long way to go to improve their living conditions.

What stage would they finish in? Who would they lose to? The graph below allows you to discover the answers and also to follow the route of each participating country, according to the quality of life indicator offered to its female inhabitants.

To read the graph: Latin American countries are highlighted in bold and on a gray background. The number that appears on the right side of each team shows the points obtained in each «match». For each game won, each team adds two points and, as in the World Cup, in the group stage each country plays three games. To win each of the games, the Female Human Development Index must be higher than that of the opponent. This indicator is also found to the right of each team, in parentheses below the score.

Rapid departure

The Latin American country that would go the furthest in this Women’s Global Human Development Cup is Argentina, which would advance to the round of 16, but the others, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay, would be eliminated from the group stage.

The rapid departure of the Latin American teams is due to the fact that, within the groups where they have to play, there are between two and three contending countries that surpass them in the performance of three key indicators for women: 

  • Health, measured by life expectancy at birth
  • Education, according to the expected number of years of schooling for girls and the average for women over 25 years of age
  • Income level

While Latin America would be eliminated, Australia, Canada, Denmark and Switzerland are the teams that would compete in the semifinals, the grand final being between Denmark and Switzerland.

Finally, the World Cup Trophy in Human Development for women would go to Denmark because, even though it shares the same Human Development Index (HDI) for women as Switzerland, it has a smaller gap between the indicator for women and men.

Beyond the World Cup

Although for this publication only the 32 countries that will compete in the Qatar 2022 World Cup were selected, the truth is that the calculation of the gender HDI is applied to 172 countries and the countries with the highest and lowest rates are not in the Cup.

Norway and Iceland are the two nations with the highest HDI for women worldwide: with 95 out of a possible 100 points each. Meanwhile, Yemen (26/100) and Chad (34/100) are last on the list.

The HDI analysis also allows us to conclude that in only one out of 10 countries -24 of the 172 nations- women have a slight advantage over men in their living conditions. In the overwhelming majority, there are relevant gaps between them.

Key concept

The Human Development Index (HDI) is prepared by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to measure people’s living conditions and is made up of the average result of three basic dimensions: a long and healthy life, education, and a decent standard of living as measured by income.

This is a turning point for women's rights and gender equality as we approach the halfway point to 2030. It is crucial that we focus now on investing in women and girls, to restore and accelerate the progress. The data shows indisputable regressions in their lives—in terms of income, security, education, and health—made worse by global crises. The longer it takes to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all"


The latest report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) highlighted that, for the first time in three decades, since the HDI was measured, the index has declined globally for two consecutive years, falling to 73 out of 100 points.

The UNDP points out that this unprecedented decrease is explained by the crises that the world has been facing in recent years: the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and the polarization of society.

The report also highlights that while some countries are beginning to recover lost ground, it is a partial and uneven process that widens global gaps, particularly in Latin America, the Caribbean, South Asia, and Africa.

«There are no certainties, simply a difficult question whose best answer is to promote human development to unleash the creative and cooperative capacities that are so inherently human,» the report highlights.

In this sense, the UNDP recommends that nations apply policies aimed at promoting:

  • Investment: ranging from the creation and application of renewable energy to preparing to deal with future crises such as pandemics and extreme natural hazards.
  • Investment in universal basic services: to protect the population from contingencies that became evident, for example, in the context of Covid-19.
  • Innovation: from technological and economic to cultural, for a better response to the challenges that arise in the future.

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(The articles in La Data Cuenta are the property of the author, Hassel Fallas. If you wish to reproduce or refer to them, please cite the original source and enclose the link in your publication).

Independent data-driven journalist since 2013

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