Providing valuable insights into the progress made towards bridging the gender gap worldwide, the World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released its 17th edition of the Global Gender Gap Report. The report, based on data collected from 146 countries, includes a constant sample of 102 countries, enabling a time-series analysis of global gender parity trends.
According to the report’s analysis, at the current rate of progress, it will take the world at least 131 years to close the global gender gap entirely. The top nine countries in this year’s report have made remarkable strides, with all closing the gender gap by over 80 per cent. Iceland stands out as the leader, topping the list for the 14th consecutive time and being the only country to have achieved over 90 per cent gender parity.
Europe dominates the top ten, with seven countries, four of which are Nordic countries: Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. In a time-series analysis, the report predicts that closing the Political Empowerment gender gap will take 162 years, the Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap will take 169 years, and the Educational Attainment gender gap will take 16 years, while the Health and Survival gender gap remains undefined.
Also Read | UNDP report exposes India’s gender bias crisis
Compared to the previous year’s report, progress towards gender equality has been more widespread, with 42 of the 145 economies covered in both the 2022 and 2023 editions showing improvement of at least one percentage point in their gender parity scores.
The report categorises the countries into eight regions and reveals that Europe has surpassed North America in gender parity, with Europe achieving 76.3 per cent gender parity compared to North America’s 75 per cent. Latin America and the Caribbean region follow closely at 74.3 per cent, while Sub-Saharan Africa ranks sixth with 68.2 per cent gender parity. Southern Asia (63.4 per cent) overtakes the Middle East and North Africa (62.6 per cent), which remains the region furthest away from gender parity in the 2023 report.
Focussing on economic disparity, the report finds that women’s representation in the global workforce is around 41.9 per cent, but they only account for 32.2 per cent of senior leadership positions. Industries like consumer services, retail, and education exhibit better gender representation in leadership positions (between 64 per cent and 68 per cent). On the other hand, industries like construction, financial services, and real estate show lower representation (less than 50 per cent) of women in C-suite roles.
In terms of political representation, there has been progress since 2013, with the percentage of women parliamentarians rising to 22.9 per cent globally. Some countries, like Iceland and Costa Rica, have achieved more than 33 per cent representation, while others, including Canada and Japan, lag behind with less than one-third of their parliamentarians being women.
The India story
The report also highlights the situation in Southern Asia, where progress has been slower, but populous countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have shown improvement. However, overall, the region is estimated to take approximately 149 years to achieve gender parity.
India, in particular, has made a partial recovery, closing 64.3 per cent of the gender gap and ranking 127th out of 146 countries. While there has been an upsurge in parity in wages and income, the share of women in senior positions and technical roles has declined slightly. India’s political representation stands at 25.3 per cent, with women representing 15.1 per cent of parliamentarians, the highest recorded since the report’s inaugural edition in 2006.
The report urges countries to take decisive action to accelerate progress, especially in the face of the reduced pace caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although 100 per cent gender parity may remain elusive in our lifetime, the report serves as a crucial tool to identify areas for improvement and collective action.
The Global Gender Gap Report uses a scale from 0 to 100 to rate countries based on their progress towards gender equality, and the report’s findings emphasise that there is still much work to be done to achieve true gender parity worldwide.
(with inputs from Shreya Bansal)