A persistently low percentage of female lawmakers is a key reason for Japan’s slide to 114th place among 144 nations in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality rankings this year.

Japan fell three ranks from last year and remains at the bottom of the Group of Seven advanced nations, according to the results released on Nov. 2.

Countries are ranked based on 14 indicators in four categories: economic participation and opportunity; political empowerment; educational attainment; and health and survival.

In the political category, Japan plunged 20 places from last year to 123rd.

As of Nov. 1, 47 Lower House members were women, representing 10.1 percent of the total, while the Upper House had 50 female members, or 20.7 percent of the total.

The Oct. 22 Lower House election increased female representation by just two seats from the previous election held in 2014.

In comparison, as of June 1, women accounted for 48 percent of lawmakers in Iceland, which ranked at the top of the gender equality list for the ninth straight year.

The top Asian nation was the Philippines, ranked 10th.

Some countries have increased equality by introducing a quota system for female candidates and lawmakers.

In nations such as Canada, France and Norway, half of their Cabinets are made up of women.

An attempt was made this year in Japan to pass legislation urging political parties to make every effort to equalize the number of candidates they run. But the dissolution of the Lower House and earlier confusion in the Diet prevented a vote on that bill.

Japan’s electoral system also plays a role in the degree of gender equality among lawmakers, according to Yoshiaki Kobayashi, a political science professor at Keio University.

Among the 15 nations with the highest ratios of female lawmakers, 14 use a proportional representation system in electing parliamentarians.

“It is very difficult for women to win in a single-seat district while trying to balance both homemaking and child-rearing tasks with campaign activities,” Kobayashi said. “Revising the electoral system will be indispensable for increasing the number of female lawmakers.”

Japan did slightly improve in the economic participation and opportunity category, rising to 114th place from last year’s 118th ranking.

But it still fell behind in some of the five indicators used for the economic grade. Japan ranked 116th in terms of high-ranking officials in the public and private sectors and was 100th in terms of income equality.

The Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum included an estimate that greater equality in the economic sector would raise Japan’s gross domestic product by $550 billion (about 63 trillion yen).

Kristalina Georgieva, the chief executive officer of the World Bank who is currently visiting Japan, told The Asahi Shimbun that achieving economic equality would benefit not only women but also society as a whole.

The World Bank has taken steps to achieve equality, and now nearly half of its management positions are occupied by women. In the 1990s, very few women were in such high-ranking positions at the World Bank.

Georgieva said having more female executives would lead to better decisions because a wider perspective would be possible. She added that it is now common knowledge that there is economic rationality in pursuing gender equality.

(This article was written by Ichiro Matsuo in Geneva and Azusa Mishima and Naoko Murai in Tokyo.)