According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, it will take another 170 years before there is global equality of the sexes, and women around the world only have 59 percent of the access to the economic advantages that men have, the lowest point since 2008.
With the estimate for when the economic gap between men and women could close slipping to 2186 this year, a severe setback from the 2015 forecast of parity being achieved by 2133, the sobering message from the study highlights what it describes as “a dramatic slowdown in progress”.
The number of women holding senior positions is another area of continued poor performance and the report’s authors point to “chronic imbalances” in labor force participation and salaries as key drivers of the disappointing results.
Potentially leading to a fall in the number of jobs needed to service these particular sectors, the fact that a large proportion of occupations with a preponderance of female workers are set to be among those most likely to be disrupted by technological innovation has raised concerns that the situation could be exacerbated in the future.
With Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden picking up – in that order – the top four places, the usual Scandinavian suspects outperformed on a country-by-country basis. It was Africa’s Rwanda which beat Ireland to claim fifth place following the Nordic countries. While the U.K. settled into 20th place, the U.S. slunk to 45th position out of a total of 144 countries.
“A world where women have 68 percent of the same opportunities as men when it comes to health and education, the workplace or in politics equates to a chronic misuse of talent at a time when the global economy needs sustainable, inclusive growth,” said Saadia Zahidi, Head of Gender Initiatives at the World Economic Forum (WEF).
“Addressing bottlenecks preventing progress in education translating into better career opportunities and more political power should be a priority for leaders looking to reverse this trend,” she continued.
The most significant progress made since the WEF first measured the gender gap in 2006 was in the aspect of Political Empowerment of the four components analysed in the report – Educational Attainment, Health & Survival, Economic Opportunity and Political Empowerment.
Demonstrating a clear 10 percent jump since the first year of measurement and a 1 percent uptick on 2015’s findings, equality for this pillar was recorded at 23 percent in 2016.
Given a stronger educational picture, with women in 95 countries representing at least as many of the university student population as men, the report’s conclusions from an economic perspective are all the more disappointing.
With the most high-profile example being Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton’s recent announcement it has set a goal of 50 percent of its currently 65,000-strong workforce being comprised of women by 2025, several companies are seeking to take matters into their own hands.
(Adapted From CNBC)