Women are on track to earn the same as men — in 202 years
The good news: The global gender gap has improved, slightly. The reality: Differences in economic opportunity, including pay between men and women, are so vast it’ll take 202 years to fully bridge them, according to the World Economic Forum.
The group looks at several measures of equality between men and women in this year’s Global Gender Gap Report, released Tuesday. Overall gender disparity across politics, work, health and education improved by less than 0.1 percent, meaning it’ll take 108 years to reach parity. The economic opportunity gap -- based on participation, pay and advancement in the workforce -- remains the area that’ll take the longest time to close.
The figures are a tiny improvement from last year’s results, where the gap between the achievements and well-being of men and women widened for the first time in more than a decade.
“What we’re seeing globally is that we don’t have any country that’s achieved gender equality, regardless of level of development, region or type of economy. Gender inequality is the reality around the world, and we’re seeing that in all aspects of women’s lives,” said Anna-Karin Jatfors, regional director for UN Women. She added that “202 years is too long a wait” for economic equity.
Jatfors said governments can help spur improvements with equal-pay policies and investment in parental and elder care infrastructure, and by allowing women legal protections including job security during pregnancy.
There’s been “minimal progress” since last year’s report in measuring economic participation and opportunity, the WEF said, with the worst-performing countries mainly in the Middle East and North Africa. Only 34 percent of global managers are women, and income gaps have been “particularly persistent,’ with 63 percent of the global wage gap having closed so far.
Iceland was the best performer on the list for the 10th year running. It also remained No. 1 for women’s political empowerment, although it slid in female representation among legislators, senior officials and managers. In October, Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir was among scores of Icelandic women who walked out of their workplaces to protest wage inequality and sexual harassment. Other nations with female leaders -- New Zealand and the U.K. -- finished seventh and 15th.
In Asia, the Philippines edged its way into eighth place on the overall global index. As such, it was the best performer in Asia, boosted by gender equality in education, politics and an improvement in wage equity. The country is far ahead of the continent’s next best performer -- Laos at 26th. Singapore ranked 67th and China was 103th, coming in last globally in women’s health.
Political empowerment is where the gender gap remains the widest, according to the findings. The US fell to the 98th spot for the measure, sliding from 66th in 2006. Still, in the midterm elections last month, which took place after the survey data was collected, women won a record 102 seats in the US House as of Nov. 19, fueled by Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump.
Progress in political empowerment in the West has been slightly reduced, with the gap of women in parliament in 22 Western countries being 41 percent. Yet improvement is being made in the rest of the world.
A new sector for gender imbalance is emerging, according to the report. The gap in artificial intelligence is three times larger than in other industries, according to an analysis conducted by WEF and LinkedIn. Women with AI skills are more likely to be employed as data analysts and information managers, while men tend to land in more lucrative and senior positions such as engineering heads and chief executives.
A number of factors are at play here, the report said, including automation affecting jobs typically done by women and fewer women entering high-growth employment areas such as information technology.
“In an era when human skills are increasingly important and complementary to technology, the world cannot afford to deprive itself of women’s talent in sectors in which talent is already scarce,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF.
In this area, Singapore, Italy and South Africa outperformed others. Women made up 28 percent of the AI workforce in all three countries, for the highest percentage among 20 economies surveyed this year using LinkedIn data.
To reinforce its Indo-Pacific strategy, and in what is being seen as a response to China's aggressive outreach to Pacific Island states, the United States (US) - along with Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Japan - announced a new Partners in Blue Pacific initiative on Friday. This month, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, also undertook an eight country tour in the region and hosted a China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers Meeting in Fiji.
Russia's army has “fully occupied” the key Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk after weeks of fighting, its mayor said on Saturday, an important strategic win for Moscow as it seeks to gain full control over the east of the country. The industrial hub of Severodonetsk has been the scene of weeks of running battles, but the Ukrainian army said on Friday that its outgunned forces would withdraw to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.
President Joe Biden criticised the US Supreme Court for making “terrible decisions”, a day after it struck down the constitutional right to abortion. Biden commented during a signing ceremony on Saturday for gun safety bill he supports, though he continued to sidestep questions about reforms to the court sought by some Democrats. He didn't respond to other questions, such as on court or filibuster reform, before heading off to Europe for international summits.
Ukraine's Severodonetsk was "fully occupied" by the Russian army, its mayor said on Saturday, after weeks of fighting over the key eastern city. The Ukrainian army on Friday said it would withdraw its forces from the city of some 100,000 inhabitants before the war to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk. Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said civilians had started to evacuate the Azot chemical plant, where several hundred people had been hiding from Russian shelling.
Ukraine said it came under "massive bombardment" Saturday from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict, the day after announcing a retreat from the strategic city of Severodonetsk. Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since the February 24 invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by Western sanctions -- but is officially not involved in the conflict.