Report: gender equality will take at least 80 years


Global gender equality has increased marginally but steadily over the last decade, the annual report on the gender gap by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found.

The report measures equality according to economic participation and pay; education; health and survival; and political participation in 142 countries. More than 100 countries noted an overall narrowing of the gap.

Saadia Zahidi, the report’s lead author, said: “In nine years of measuring the global gender gap, the world has seen only a small improvement in equality for women in the workplace.”

She added that no one country has closed its overall gender gap.

Nordic countries lead the rankings, with Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark occupying the top five places. The top ten are rounded off by Nicaragua, Rwanda, Ireland, the Philippines and Belgium. Meanwhile, Chad, Pakistan and Yemen occupy the last three places. The USA and UK come in at 20 and 26, respectively.

Developed countries tend to score highly in health and education, particularly tertiary enrolment where equality has, in many instances, been surpassed. Equally, labour force membership is not a concern, but there is still a substantial gap in equal pay and managerial positions.

Political empowerment and ministerial roles saw a similar shortfall, particularly in Japan and South Korea.

“Much of the progress on gender equality over the last ten years has come from more women entering politics and the workforce,” said Zahidi. “While more women and more men have joined the workforce over the last decade, more women than men entered the labour force in 49 countries.”

Individual sectors can have a significant impact on a country’s overall score, however. For instance, India scores poorly, despite a strong tradition of female-led politics which surpasses that of many developed countries. Rwanda, meanwhile, scored very highly due to a workforce approaching equality, and high prevalence of women in government and cabinet.

Based on the WEF’s dataset, if improvement continues at the current rate – hypothetically speaking – and assuming no deterioration, it will take a further 81 years to eradicate the gender gap altogether.

However, there are further factors to equality that the report does not take into account.


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