Global Progress Toward Gender Parity Has Stalled

In 2022, the global gender gap is 68 percent closed, and, at the current rate of progress, it will take 132 years (or until 2154) to reach full gender parity, according to the Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Although this is a slight improvement over last year, the report says, “it does not compensate for the generational loss that occurred between 2020 and 2021” mainly caused by the global pandemic. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the report’s findings related to gender inequality in the workplace.

Compounding Crises

“Amid multi-layered and compounding crises including the rising cost of living, the ongoing pandemic, the climate emergency, and large-scale conflict and displacement, the progress towards gender parity is stalling,” states Saadia Zahidi in the WEF report’s preface. 

Only 30 countries covered in the report closed the gap by at least one percentage point.

Of the 146 countries studied, the top 10 in terms of gender parity are:

  • Iceland (90%)
  • Finland (86%)
  • Norway (84%) 
  • New Zealand (84%)
  • Sweden (82%) 
  • Rwanda (81%)
  • Nicaragua (81%)
  • Namibia (80.7%)
  • Ireland (80.4%)
  • Germany (80.1%)

Elsewhere on the list, the UK comes in at #22, the United States is at #27, Brazil at #94, China at #102, and India at #135.

Wealth and Working Life

Gender parity specifically in the labor force stands at 62.9 percent, which is the lowest level since the index was first compiled in 2006. 

Workforce gender gaps are driven by many issues, but, Zahidi notes, “societal expectations, employer policies, the legal environment, and the availability of care infrastructure” continue to limit education and career opportunities for women. Additionally, the report states, broader issues such as “geopolitical conflict and climate change both impact women disproportionately.” 

Women are also at a disadvantage in terms of wealth accumulation during the course of their working life, according to analysis cited in the report, with the “most salient factors” contributing to this inequality being:

  • Gender pay gaps 
  • Unequal career progression trajectories 
  • Gender gaps in financial literacy
  • Life events 

Overall, says Zahidi, “the economic and social consequences of the pandemic and geopolitical conflict have paused progress and worsened outcomes for women and girls around the world.” 

The widening gap, she says, increases the need for: 

  • Social and worker protection 
  • Reskilling and reintegration opportunities
  • Strengthened care infrastructure
  • Increased female leadership in industries where women are underrepresented

“Collective, coordinated, and comprehensive action will be needed to create sustained improvements and halt the risks of reversals,” Zahidi says. 

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