It would take 202 years to achieve economic parity between men and women, a World Economic Forum study concludes. The report looked at for dimensions – economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and survival. The latest Global Gender Gap Report found a slight narrowing of male and female imbalances in 2018 but the gap widened for the first time last year since the very first report was published in 2006.
Slight progress was offset by some worsening indicators such as under-representation of women in labour force and politics. Around the world, there are only 17 countries with female heads of state while, on global average, only 18% of ministers and 24% of parliamentarians are women. “Proactive measures that support gender parity and social inclusion and address historical imbalances are therefore essential for the health of the global economy as well as for the good of society as a whole,” commented Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Problematic indicators included worse access of women to health and education compared to 2017 while political empowerment also went down. Progress was registered in the economic area where gender income gap narrowed and currently sits at 51%. The number of women in top positions stands at 34% globally. A major barrier in this area is the disproportionate impact on automation on jobs traditionally performed by women combined with a lack of support to facilitate their return to the labour market following childcare or eldercare.
Women also remain underrepresented in the sectors that are key to the digital revolution, such as science, engineering and mathematics. Therefore, “countries that want to remain competitive and inclusive will need to make gender equality a critical part of their nation’s human capital development,” the report said and added that “in particular, learning between countries and public-private cooperation within countries will be critical elements of closing the gender gap”.