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- COVID-19 pandemic pushes back gender parity by a generation: Global Gender Gap Report 2021
COVID-19 Pandemic Pushes Back Gender Parity By A Generation: Global Gender Gap Report 2021
GENEVA, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 31st Mar, 2021) Another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.
Progress towards gender parity is stalling in several large economies and industries. This is partly due to women being more frequently employed in sectors hardest hit by lockdowns combined with the additional pressures of providing care at home.
The report, now in its 15th year, benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment. It also examines the drivers of gender gaps and outlines the policies and practices needed for a gender-inclusive recovery.
The deterioration in 2021 is partly attributed to a widening political gender gap in several large population countries. Despite over half of the 156 indexed countries registering an improvement, women still hold only 26.1 percent of parliamentary seats and 22.6 percent of ministerial positions worldwide. On its current trajectory, the political gender gap is expected to take 145.5 years to close, compared to 95 years in the 2020 edition of the report, an increase of over 50 percent.
The economic gender gap has seen only a marginal improvement since the 2020 edition and is expected to take another 267.6 years to close. The slow progress is due to opposing trends – while the proportion of women among skilled professionals continues to increase, income disparities persist and few women are represented in managerial positions.
Although these findings are sobering, gender gaps in education and health are nearly closed. In education, while 37 countries have reached gender parity, it will take another 14.2 years to completely close this gap due to slowing progress. In health, over 95 percent of this gender gap has been closed, registering a marginal decline since last year.
"The pandemic has fundamentally impacted gender equality in both the workplace and the home, rolling back years of progress. If we want a dynamic future economy, it is vital for women to be represented in the jobs of tomorrow. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to focus leadership attention, commit to firm targets and mobilize resources. This is the moment to embed gender parity by design into the recovery," said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.
The pandemic has had a more negative impact on women than men, with women losing jobs at higher rates (5 percent vs 3.9 percent among men, International Labour Organisation), partly due to their disproportionate representation in sectors directly disrupted by lockdowns, such as the consumer sector.
Sectors with historically low representation of women are also those with fast-growing "jobs of tomorrow". In cloud computing, for example, women make up 14 percent of the workforce; in engineering, 20 percent; and in data and artificial intelligence, 32 percent; and it is more difficult for women to switch into these emerging roles than men.
The report offers new metrics for tracking progress on closing gender gaps in the jobs of tomorrow. While care and education roles also offer areas of future growth and women have stronger representation, they are often lower-paid roles than other jobs of tomorrow.
The pandemic’s combined effect of accelerated automation, the growing "double shift" of work and care, in parallel with other labour market dynamics such as occupational segregation, are likely to have a long-term impact on economic opportunities for women, risking inferior re-employment prospects and a persistent drop in income.
The report offers ways for countries to work towards closing their gender gaps. These include further investment in the care sector and equitable access to care leave for working men and women, policies and practices that proactively focus on overcoming occupational segregation by gender, effective mid-career skills-development policies for women, and managerial practices that embed sound, unbiased hiring and promotion practices.
For the 12th time, Iceland is once again the most gender-equal country in the world. The top 10 includes: The five most improved countries in the overall index in 2021 are Lithuania, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Togo and United Arab Emirates, having narrowed their gender gaps by at least 4.4 percentage points or more. Timor-Leste and Togo also managed to close their economic gap by at least 17 full percentage points in the year. Three new countries have been assessed this year for the first time: Afghanistan (156th), Guyana (53rd) and Niger (138th).
Western Europe continues to be the best-performing region and has further improved, with 77.6 percent of its overall gender gap now closed. At this rate, it will take 52.1 years to close the gender gap. Six of the top 10 countries in the index are from this region and 2021’s improvement is driven by the fact that 17 of the 20 countries in the region have at least marginally improved their performance.
North America (76.4 percent), comprising Canada and the United States, is the most improved region, with an increase of almost 3.5 percent. As a result, it will take 61.5 years to close the gender gap here. A significant part of this year’s progress is related to improvements in the political gender gap, having narrowed from 18.4 percent to 33.4 percent.