1000 more years needed to close economic gender gap

Image Source: World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum started measuring Gender gap in 2006 through Global Gender Gap report.  The Global Gender Gap Index ranks 144 countries on the gap between women and men on health, education, economic and political indicators. It aims to understand whether countries are distributing their resources and opportunities equitably between women and men, irrespective of their overall income levels. The report measures the size of the gender inequality gap in four areas:

• Economic participation and opportunity – salaries, participation and leadership

• Education – access to basic and higher levels of education

• Political empowerment – representation in decision-making structures

• Health and survival – life expectancy and sex ratio

The verdict : Long way to go before world is equal and fair to half of its population

As per report “More than a decade of data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realizing the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes”.  As per report, key challenge is stagnant labour force participation, with the global average for women at 54 per cent compared with 81 per cent for men. Moreover, the number of women in senior positions also remains stubbornly low, with only four countries in the world having equal numbers of male and female legislators, senior officials and managers. In India, just 28% of females participate in the formal workforce, in comparison to 82% of males. On this sub-index, India’s rank is 135. Globally, the average female representation on boards of companies is just 14%. For India, the figure is even lower – women constitute just 10% of the boards of publicly traded companies.

Key Findings

1000 years it would take for women in South Asia to close the economic gender gap.

Yes, you read it right, it’s 1000 years, no typos here. However unbelievably shocking that number might look, but that’s what the report says when it comes to how many years it will take for world regions to close the economic gender gap. North America is going backwards on closing the economic gender gap.Take a look at figure below.

regionsEducation alone does not lead to economic empowerment for women

Education gap is an area where almost all regions of the world are doing well. India has done fairly well in closing the gender gap in education enrolment. Globally, gender gaps in education have narrowed down tremendously, with very small gaps in primary and secondary education and almost complete parity in tertiary education. While women and men emerge from tertiary education with similar skills and knowledge, there is a rather wide global gender gap of 47% in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – with more men taking up these fields than women. Education parity not leading to economic parity shows that education does not mean economic opportunities for women and education alone does not lead to economic empowerment.


Women on average work longer than men in the same job

Women work 39 days more than Men per year.Women spend more than 4 hours a day on unpaid work compared to 1.5 hour men spend. Even in general, combining both paid and unpaid work, women put in 50 minutes more of work time each day than men.The following chart depicts the disparity between unpaid work


Women on average are paid less than men for same work.

As per report “Women are still paid just over half as much as men, and at the current rate of change it will take 170 years before they receive equal pay.”On wage equality, India ranks 103rd – worse than Nepal, Iran, Bhutan, Yemen, Uganda and dozens of other countries. The report notes that Indian law does not actually mandate wage equality for men and women. Gender wage gap is a problem which exists to varying degree in all countries and across industries.


Economic value of Household and care work is very low

Women have been sacrificing careers to be full-time caretakers of their home and family. It is good to know how much low value is attached to the care work even as a paid work.Look at figure below:


Over all report paints a very grim picture of world as far as gender equality is concerned. On one hand we read about technology breakthroughs such as mission to mars and driverless cars, on other hand women are struggling to get paid equal to men for the same work. World is moving forward on everything else and backward on closing the gender gap. 1000 years is the wait time for women of South Asian countries to see a world which is equal and fair to half its population unless Government of countries take major reforms in public policy supported by gender diversity policies at private companies.

Source: The Global Gender Gap Report 2016, World Economic Forum.


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