Another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity, according to World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.
The Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps among four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment) and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time.
This year, the Global Gender Gap index benchmarks 156 countries, providing a tool for cross-country comparison and to prioritize the most effective policies needed to close gender gaps.
The 14th edition of the report, the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, was launched in December 2019, using the latest available data at the time. The 15th edition, the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, comes out a little over one year after COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic. Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed. Globally, the average distance completed to parity is at 68%, a step back compared to 2020 (-0.6 percentage points). These figures are mainly driven by a decline in the performance of large countries.
On its current trajectory, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide.
In this analysis they considered 4 kind of gap:
- The gender gap in Political Empowerment that remains the largest of the four gaps tracked, across the 156 countries covered by the index, women represent only 26.1% of some 35,500 parliament seats and just 22.6% of over 3,400 ministers worldwide.
- Widening gender gaps in Political Participation that have been driven by negative trends in some large countries which have counterbalanced progress in another 98 smaller countries. Globally, since the previous edition of the report, there are more women in parliaments, and two countries have elected their first female prime minister (Togo in 2020 and Belgium in 2019).
- The gender gap in Economic Participation and Opportunity that remains the second-largest of the four key gaps tracked by the index. According to this year’s index results 58% of this gap has been closed so far. The gap has seen marginal improvement since the 2020 edition of the report and as a result we estimate that it will take another 267.6 years to close. On one hand, the proportion of women among skilled professionals continues to increase, as does progress towards wage equality, albeit at a slower pace. On the other hand, overall income disparities are still only part-way towards being bridged and there is a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing just 27% of all manager positions.
- Gender gaps in Educational Attainment and Health and Survival are nearly closed.The COVID-19 crisis has also accelerated automation and digitalization, speeding up labour market disruption. Data points to significant challenges for gender parity in the future of jobs due to increasing occupational gender-segregation. Only two of the eight tracked “jobs of tomorrow” clusters (People & Culture and Content Production) have reached gender parity, while most show a severe underrepresentation of women.
Gender gaps are more likely in sectors that require disruptive technical skills. For example, in Cloud Computing, women make up 14% of the workforce; in Engineering, 20%; and in Data and AI, 32%.
Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th time.
The top 10 includes:
The five most-improved countries in the overall index this year are Lithuania, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Togo and United Arab Emirates, having narrowed their gender gaps
There are significant disparities across and within various geographies. Western Europe remains the region that has progressed the most towards gender parity (77.6%) and is further progressing this year. At the current relative pace, gender gaps can potentially be closed in 52.1 years in Western Europe, 61.5 years in North America, and 68.9 years in Latin America and the Caribbean. In all other regions it will take over 100 years to close the gender gap: 121.7 years in Sub-Saharan Africa, 134.7 years in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 165.1 years in East Asia and the Pacific, 142.4 years in Middle East and North Africa, and 195.4 years in South Asia.