Based on the latest statistics from international organizations, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender gap Report 2023 is out, and the findings are stagnant. With a mere 0.3 percent growth from last year, parity isn’t expected to be reached until 2154.
Gender parity and gender-based gaps are measured in four areas, economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. This year’s findings show that 117 out of 146 indexed countries have closed at least 95 percent of the educational attainment gap, while political empowerment remains at just 22.1 percent. Since the first edition of the report in 2006, global efforts have managed to advance by only 4.1 percent.
“While there have been encouraging signs of recovery to pre-pandemic levels, women continue to bear the brunt of the current cost of living crisis and labor market disruptions,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “An economic rebound requires the full power of creativity and diverse ideas and skills. We cannot afford to lose momentum on women’s economic participation and opportunity.”
While no individual country has achieved full gender parity, the highest-ranking countries have closed at least 80 percent of their gap. Iceland, which is the only country to close more than 90 percent, was ranked the most gender-equal country in the world for the 14th consecutive year. It is followed by Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia, Lithuania, and Belgium. Since the 2022 edition, Europe has overtaken North America with a regional ranking of 76.3 percent.
Following a 1.9 percent decline since the previous year, North America ranks second following a decline in the political empowerment gap. Globally, women remain underrepresented in political leadership. By including women in the decision-making process, promoting gender-responsive policies, and removing barriers to political empowerment, the political empowerment gap can begin to shrink.
In Latin America, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Jamaica are nations that achieved the highest scores, with the region registering an overall 74.3 percent. Progress in Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific has stagnated. While 11 out of the 19 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region have exhibited improvements, the remaining 8 nations have displayed a decline.
The Middle East and North Africa are the lowest-ranking regions, with a rating of 62.6 percent gender gap closed. Although overall parity has declined by 0.9 percent since the last edition, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain score at 71.2 and 66.6 respectively.
As for the glass ceiling, it remains well intact. According to global data provided by LinkedIn, while women account for 41.9% of the workforce in 2023, the share of women in senior leadership positions (director, vice-president or C-suite) is nearly 10 percentage points lower at 32.2%. “We’re consistently seeing that women bear the brunt of economic shocks and headwinds. We know that these problems are systemic – which means we need a systemic response,” said Sue Duke, Head, Global Public Policy, LinkedIn. While representation has improved, wage equality, women in leadership, and unpaid care work are some of the many factors that inhibit parity from fully flourishing. The digital divide exacerbates these inequalities.
How can we continue to address these global disparities?
Gender gap parity is an indicator of the state of a nation, and ultimately enables a thriving economy. As we continue to advance and evolve, carving out more spaces for women is an urgent task that will make way for continued social cohesion, economic growth, and sustainable development.
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