South Africa and Lesotho, a kingdom completely surrounded by South Africa, are the only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa that make it into WEF's top 20. South Africa fares particularly well on political empowerment -- women currently comprise 45 percent of Parliament. Two South African women are also represented on Forbes's list of most powerful women: Absa Bank CEO Maria Ramos and Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, who runs Arcelor Mittal South Africa, the largest steel producer in Africa.
Lesotho actually scores better than South Africa in gender equality, boasting no gap between men and women in WEF's education and health indicators. But while it may be more equal, Lesotho is also in much worse shape: Its annual per capita income hovers around $1,000, according to World Bank figures, about one-sixth that of South Africa. Meanwhile, life expectancy in Lesotho is only 47 years -- a full five years less than its larger neighbor.
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