Efforts to close gender gaps in pay and workforce participation slowed so dramatically in the past year that men and women may not reach economic equality for another 170 years, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said on Tuesday.Statistics just a year ago predicted the economic gap between genders could close in 118 years, but progress has decelerated, stalled or reversed in nations around the world, the Swiss non-profit WEF said in its annual gender gap index.
Iceland, Finland at top
“These forecasts are not foregone conclusions. Instead, they reflect the current state of progress and serve as a call to action,” Saadia Zahidi, a member of the WEF executive committee, said in a statement.
Overall, Iceland and Finland ranked highest among 144 nations measured on progress in equality in education, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment.Next were Norway and Sweden, followed by Rwanda, which has improved economic participation and income equality and has the highest share of women parliamentarians in the world, the WEF said.
Economic gap widens
It stands at 59 per cent, meaning women’s economic participation and opportunity is a little more than half of what men have, Ms. Zahidi said.At the current rate, and given that the gap widened last year, women and men will not be equal economically for another 170 years, the report said.
Around the world, 54 per cent of working-age women on average participate in the formal economy, compared with 81 per cent of men, it said. Women’s average annual earnings are roughly half those of men, estimated at $10,778, versus $19,873, it said. But closing the gap in political empowerment, at current rates, could take 82 years, it said. — Reuters