Closing The Gap

World Economic Forum: It could take 202 years for women to reach economic equality

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The gender gap is narrowing, but there's still a long way to go before parity is reached. 

How long? The 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, released today by the World Economic Forum (WEF), estimates that it will take 202 years for economic equality between men and women to be achieved around the world. 

The report benchmarks how countries perform across four dimensions: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The organization estimates that the health gap is nearly closed, and that the education gap will be closed in 14 years.

But the WEF also found that it will take 107 years for the world to achieve political equality.

"The equal contribution of women and men in this process of deep economic and societal transformation is critical," writes Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. "More than ever, societies cannot afford to lose out on the skills, ideas and perspectives of half of humanity."

World Economic Forum founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

"The most challenging gender gaps to close are the economic and political empowerment dimensions, which will take 202 and 107 years to close respectively," according to the report. "Although the economic opportunity gap has slightly reduced this year, the progress has been slow, especially in terms of participation of women in labor force, where the gender gap slightly reversed."

The WEF defines economic participation and opportunity equality using four different measures: labor force participation, wage equality for similar work, estimated earned income, the percentage of women in management and leadership positions and the percentage of women in professional and technical fields.

Based on these figures, the WEF calculates that the economic participation and opportunity gap is 58 percent. One of the biggest factors contributing to this gap is the lack of leadership opportunities available to women. 

"In the workplace, women still encounter significant obstacles in taking on managerial or senior official roles," states the report. "When we consider only managers for the subset of countries for which recent data are available, just about 34 percent of global managers are women."

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According to the WEF, women and men are equally likely to earn managerial positions in just five countries: the Bahamas, Colombia, Jamaica, Laos and the Philippines. In Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, men hold over 90 percent of all managerial positions.

On average, the WEF found that women make just 63 percent what men make for the same work, and earn 50 percent less than men each year. Additionally, women are more likely than men to perform unpaid labor like household chores. Across the 29 countries that provide data on unpaid labor, women on average spend twice as much time as men doing work that is unpaid.

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