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Girls & Women

It Will Take Another 100 Years to Achieve Gender Equality: Report

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Improving gender equality and access to education are two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Empowering women and girls with better jobs, education, and political representation would help lift many societies out of poverty. Join Global Citizen and take action on these issues here.

Gender equality is still about a century away for many women in the world, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Regions across the world have, on average, closed 68.6% of the gender gap, based on the findings of the report entitled "Global Gender Gap Report 2020," which has been published annually by the WEF since 2006.

"Projecting current trends into the future, the overall global gender gap will close in 99.5 years, on average, across the 107 countries covered continuously since the first edition of the report," the report stated.

The timeline for achieving gender equality, however, varies based on region.

Out of the eight regions identified in the report, Western Europe is the closest to achieving gender equality — 54 years from now. Meanwhile, North America is estimated to be 151 years away from closing the gender gap. East Asia and the Pacific appear to be struggling the most, as they are not being expected to reach gender equality for another 163 years.

Although the numbers seem daunting, Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, pointed out in the preface to the report that there is a road map to follow when it comes to reaching gender parity.

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"Companies must treat people with dignity and respect and offer equal opportunities to all members of the society, leveraging gender diversity and investing in all of their talent through ongoing upskilling and reskilling," he wrote. "Governments must create policies that provide talent development, integration and deployment opportunities for all genders, diversify the leadership pool and provide support to families and caregivers, in both youthful and ageing societies alike. And business and government must work together on creating a new economic and social narrative for action and on coordinating and speeding up the process of change."

The report measured gender equality based on four areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

Achieving equality in economic participation and opportunity is the farthest off, with the report estimating that it will 257 years to close the gender gap. The next biggest gap was in the area of political empowerment, where, despite some solid improvement over this past year, the report still found that the world was 94.5 years away from achieving parity.

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Empowering women is a goal that many organizations and governments are working towards as a part of a larger strategy to eliminate extreme poverty.

"Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large," the UN reports.

The timeline for gender equality in educational attainment is not nearly as long as the others, with the report estimating it will be closed over the next 12 years. Lastly, the timeframe to close the health and survival gap "remains undefined."

This is how far away each of the eight regions in the report are from achieving gender equality:

  • Western Europe — 54 years
  • Latin America and the Caribbean — 59 years
  • South Asia — 71.5 years 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa — 95 years
  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia — 107 years
  • The Middle East and North Africa — 140 years
  • North America — 151 years
  • East Asia and the Pacific — 163 years

The report also found that, for the 11th year in a row, Iceland is the best country in the world in terms of gender equality, followed by its Nordic neighbors Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Rounding out the top ten are Nicarauga, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Rwanda, and Germany.

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