What is the gender gap and why is it important to understand it?

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  • The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report measures how many years it will take to achieve gender parity.
  • The gender gap in political empowerment is the largest of the four areas tracked.
  • The results highlight the importance of International Women’s Day on March 8; this year’s theme is #BreakTheBias.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” says the adageoften attributed to management consultant Peter Drucker.

And on this International Women’s Day, being able to measure and track progress towards gender parity is more important than ever; as the quest for equality continues to attract attention, it is important to understand whether real progress is being made.

What is the Global Gender Gap Index?

the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index started in 2006 and provides an annual assessment of the distance to gender parity that allows for cross-country comparisons and time-series analysis.

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress in closing gender gaps at the national level. To turn this information into concrete actions and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public-private collaboration.

These accelerators were convened in ten countries from three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Panama in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

All National Accelerators, as well as Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a larger ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, which facilitates the exchange of ideas and knowledge. experiences via the Forum platform.

In 2019, Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women make up just over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women in the labor force are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to move into leadership positions.

In these countries, CEOs and Ministers work together over a three-year period on policies that help to further reduce the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare, and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention, and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries, you can join the local member base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we do not currently have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator, you can contact us to explore the possibilities of creating one.

Based on four sub-indices that chart economic participation and opportunity, education, health, and political empowerment, the index is designed to measure gender gaps in access to resources and opportunities, rather than the actual levels of resources and opportunities available, which relate to the wealth levels of each country.

An infographic showing the four pillars of the gender gap framework.

These are the four pillars of the Forum’s Gender Gauge.

Image: World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021.

Understanding how big the gaps are and where they lie can also help policymakers prioritize the most effective policies to close them. Iceland was the most equal country in the world for the 12th time, according to the 2021 index.

A chart showing the top 10 countries in the world for gender parity.

Iceland leads the way in gender parity.

Image: World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021

Globally, the average distance traveled to parity was 68% in the 2021 report, a small decline from 2020 – the gap widening by 0.6 percentage points. This means that on the current trajectory, it will take 135.6 years to close the gap in the world.

Why is it important to understand the gender gap?

The persistence of gender bias is one of the themes of the Gender Gap Forum report, and bias has been shown to exist in many fields, including STEM subjects, where women have made progress but are still less likely to pursue a career or be paid. on par with their male counterparts.

Understanding that the gap is unlikely to be closed for more than a hundred years underscores the need for initiatives such as International Women’s Day (IWD). Held every year on March 8, the day raises awareness of women’s issues and pushes for more equality policies. This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias.

A tweet showing people crossing their arms in the shape of a

People cross their arms as a symbol of International Women’s Day.

Image: Twitter/Awaj Foundation

How does the gender gap affect leadership roles?

The Forum index indicates how far is left to go in each of the four sub-indices it represents. Political empowerment is the area where the most work remains, with only 22% of the gap closed to date. This means that women have a long way to go to be included in political life as well. In the 156 countries tracked, women make up 26% of some 35,500 parliamentary seats and around 23% of the more than 3,400 ministers worldwide.

In 81 (more than half) of the countries included in the report, there has never been a female head of state.

Economic participation and opportunity is the second largest of the four gaps. On the one hand, the proportion of women among qualified professionals continues to increase, but on the other hand, the overall income disparities are only partially closed and there is a lack of women in leadership positions.

Where has progress been made?

The gender gaps in the other two indices: level of education and health and survival are almost closed. In the area of ​​educational attainment, 95% of the gap has been closed globally and the figure is 96% for health and survival.

A tweet showing an image with the words

The theme for International Women’s Day this year is #BreakTheBias.

Image: Twitter/Women’s Day

“There are no room for complacencysays the IWD website. “Gender parity will not be achieved for nearly a century. There is urgent work to be done – and we can all play a part.


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