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How the world can gain $12 trillion through gender equality

By Meghan Werft|

The world can add $12 TRILLION to global annual GDP according to a study from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) in less than 10 years. How you might wonder can the world get so rich in such a short period of time? Two words: gender equality.

via GIPHY

By including ALL the women who are left out of taking EQUAL part in and contributing to the global economy.

The burden of gender inequality has for too long wasted the economic opportunity for not just women, but for the world. In The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth, MGI crunches the numbers -- revealing just how much the world is losing out on by not operating on a gender equal base.  

Instead of getting upset and frustrated with the unjust nature of unequal pay between genders, or the total exclusion of women from the economy in some countries, MGI looks on the bright side. They see the power of what gender parity can deliver.

The study also came out with a new discussion paper that’s all about how to actually achieve gender equality.

There are 15 unequal areas between genders, according to the paper, and even changing six of them can have a huge impact. Improving access to “education, family planning, maternal health, financial inclusion, digital inclusion, and assistance with unpaid care” can help unlock some of the $12 trillion that the global economy is missing out on by not making economic opportunity accessible for women.

What will it cost to provide these services?

In 2025 (the year by which the world can add $12 trillion to the global economy), an investment of $1.5 to $2 trillion would suffice to bring about change in the above mentioned areas.

That’s just 20-30 percent more than would normally be spent, assuming these services stay on the same trajectory. And the economic benefits would be six to eight times higher than the investments according to MGI.

Increasing these services would benefit men as well as women, affording both genders greater prosperity, because empowered women will create opportunities for everyone.

So, where are the biggest gaps?

Globally, it’s leadership positions, unpaid care (aka all that cleaning, cooking, and household chores taken on by girls and women), and political positions of power. Then when you break it down (like GMI did for 95 countries) financial inclusion is a challenge in South Asia, and Latin America. While education and health are the reason for lower gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South Asia, according to GMI’s Global Parity Index rating system.

What changes does the world need?

Increase paid family leave for 58 million women, and child care access for 180 million families.

Get 62 million girls, and 58 million boys a full education.

Provide safe births for 38 million women.

Make energy accessible for 880 million more people.

How will it happen?

The report suggests that gender neutrality when it comes to public budgets and resources can achieve gender equality. For example, making paid family leave available for all genders can address both the social and work limitations of taking time off work.

Investments again depend on region; equality in education, water and sanitation and energy being more needed in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, whereas paid family leave and early child care will contribute to quicker economic growth in Europe.

Focusing on the needed services at a regional level can help address the biggest challenges of achieving gender equality. Like COP21, if each country can bring something to the table, in this case to narrowing the gender gap, the world can get a lot closer to gender equality and that $12 trillion dollar empowerment bonus.

Check out the report here to learn more about GMI’s recommended roadmap to a gender equal world by 2025. 

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