Pandemic disruptions and weak recovery delay gender parity to 132 years – Eurasia Review
After big hit from COVID, gender gap hasn’t rebounded, says World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022. As the global economy enters its third year of continued disruption, it will take another 132 years (up from 136 in 2021) to close the gender gap.
The report suggests that of the 146 economies studied, only one in five managed to reduce the gender gap by at least 1% in the past year. As a result, although gains have been made over the past year, they have only reduced the time it will take to achieve gender parity by four years. This progress hardly compensates for the setback of an entire generation recorded in 2020-2021 at the start of the pandemic.
“The cost of living crisis is disproportionately affecting women after the shock of labor market losses during the pandemic and the continued insufficiency of care infrastructure. Faced with a weak recovery, the government and companies must deploy two sets of efforts: targeted policies to support the return of women to the labor market and the development of female talent in the industries of the future. Otherwise, we risk permanently eroding the gains of past decades and losing future economic returns to diversity,” says Saadia Zahidi, chief executive of the World Economic Forum.
The Global Gender Gap Report, now in its 16th year, measures changes in gender gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; education level; health and survival; and political empowerment. It also explores the impact of recent global shocks on the growing crisis of the gender gap in the labor market.
In the 146 countries covered in 2022, the gender gap in health and survival has narrowed by 95.8%, educational attainment by 94.4%, economic participation and opportunity by 60 .3% and political empowerment 22%. Between 2021 and 2022, the economic participation and opportunity sub-index increased by 1.6%, mainly due to gains for women in professional and technical roles and a reduction in the wage gap, even whether gender gaps in the labor force have increased. For the health and survival sub-index, there was a slight improvement from 95.7% to 95.8%, while the education level sub-index fell from 95.2% to 94, 4% and political empowerment stagnated at 22%.
Taking a longer-term view of 16 years, at the current rate of progress, it will take 155 years to close the gender gap in political empowerment – 11 more than projected in 2021 – and 151 years for the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity. Although 29 countries have achieved full parity, it will take another 22 years to close the gender gap in educational attainment. And while more than 140 countries have closed at least 95% of their health gaps, the overall decline in health and survival means there could be a reversal.
2022 Global and Regional Highlights
For the 13th consecutive year, Iceland is the most equal country in the world and the only one to have closed more than 90% of the gender gap. The Top 10 countries include:
North America is the best performing region, with 76.9% of its gender gap closed. The number of years it will take to close the gap has increased from 62 to 59. There is a slight improvement in the United States, while Canada’s score is flat.
Europe (76.6%) follows closely behind, recording a 0.2% improvement since 2021, resulting in a 60-year wait until the gender gap is closed. Six of the top 10 countries are European and nine of the region’s 35 countries improved their score by at least 1%. Albania, Iceland and Luxembourg are the three countries in the region that have made the most progress.
Latin America and the Caribbean (72.6%) ranks third at the regional level, improving by 0.4% since the previous edition. At the current rate of progress, Latin America and the Caribbean will close the gap in 67 years. However, within the region, only six of the 22 countries indexed in this edition have improved their gender gap score by at least one percentage point, suggesting growing regional divergence.
Central Asia (69.1%) is marking time in its progress, with an unchanged score compared to 2021. At this rate, it will take 151 years to close the regional gender gap. Six of the 10 countries in the region saw improved scores, with Moldova, Belarus and Georgia representing the top-ranked countries.
East Asia and the Pacific (69%) saw 13 of the 19 countries in the region progress since the last edition. But at its current pace, the region will need 168 years to close the gender gap. Progress is being made at different rates from one country to another, which risks accentuating regional divergences. The best performing countries in the region are New Zealand (84.1%), the Philippines (78.3%) and Australia (73.8%).
Sub-Saharan Africa (68.7%) recorded its highest score ever, improving by 1.1% over the past year, reflecting positive changes in the economic gender gap in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia , the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. At the current rate, it will take 98 years to close the gender gap.
Middle East and North Africa (63.4%) has the second largest gender gap that has yet to be closed, with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon being the top performers. Some progress has been made in reducing the economic gender gap (+2%), with a number of countries improving women’s participation in the labor market and the share of women in technical roles. The region’s score remains similar to the last edition, giving a timeframe of 115 years to close the gap.
South Asia (62.3%) has the largest gender gap of any region, with low scores across all measured gender gaps and little progress in most countries since the last edition. At the current rate, it will take 197 years to close the gender gap in the region. The economic gender gap has narrowed by 1.8%, with an increase in the share of women in professional and technical roles in countries such as Bangladesh and India, as well as in Nepal.