Economic parity between women and men could take 170 years – report

Jee Y. Geronimo
Iceland tops the list of the world's most gender-equal societies

MANILA, Philippines – The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 said progress has slowed dramatically in terms of economic parity between men and women.

According to the report released Wednesday, October 26, economic parity between sexes could take 170 years given the dramatic slowdown in progress. This is a huge decline from the projected 118 years in 2015.

This gender gap in the economic pillar now stands at 59%, which the report said is “larger than at any point since 2008.”

What caused the slowdown? The report lists the following:

  • Salary – Women around the world on average earning just over half of what men earn despite working longer hours (on average), paid and unpaid work included.
  • Stagnant labor force participation – Global average for women at 54%, lower than 81% for men
  • Number of women in senior positions “stubbornly low” – Only 4 countries in the world have equal numbers of male and female lawmakers, senior officials, and managers, despite 95 countries having as many, if not more, women educated at the university level.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which publishes the annual report, warned about the risk of this slow rate of progress towards gender parity, especially in the economic realm. 

“Many jobs that employ a majority of women are likely to be hit proportionately hardest by the coming age of technological disruption known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the statement read. 

“This ‘hollowing out’ of female livelihoods could deprive economies further of women’s talents and increases the urgency for more women to enter high-growth fields such as those demanding STEM skills.”

Aside from economic indicators, the Global Gender Gap Index ranks 144 countries on other areas such as educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

“The education gender gap has closed 1% over the past year to over 95%, making it one of the two areas where most progress has been made to date. Health and survival, the other pillar to have closed 96% of its gap, has deteriorated minimally,” the statement also read. 

“Two-thirds of the 144 countries measured in this year’s report can now claim to have fully closed their gender gap in sex ratio at birth, while more than 1/3 have fully closed the gap in terms of healthy life expectancy.”

While the political empowerment pillar has the largest gender gap, the report said this areas has also seen “the greatest amount of progress” since WEF began its measurement of the gender gap in 2006.

The report said the gap, which is now at 23%, is 1% greater than 2015 and nearly 10% higher than in 2006.

“However, improvements are starting from a low base: only two countries have reached parity in parliament and only 4 have reached parity on ministerial roles,” the statement read.

Most gender-equal countries

Below are the world’s top 10 most gender equal countries, based on the report:

  1. Iceland
  2. Finland
  3. Norway
  4. Sweden
  5. Rwanda
  6. Ireland
  7. Philippines
  8. Slovenia
  9. New Zealand
  10. Nicaragua

Major economies in the top 20 include Germany (13th place), France (17th place), and the United Kingdom (20th place).

Among the BRICS countries, South Africa made it to 15th place – two places higher than in 2015 – while the rest are ranked as follows: Russia (75th place), Brazil (79th place), India (87th place), China (99th place).

The United States, meanwhile, lost 17 places since 2015 and is now ranked 45th, but mainly because of its “more transparent” measure for the estimated earned income. – Rappler.com