The pandemic has reversed global progress in achieving equality between men and women. The consequences could even be long-lasting, concluded the World Economic Forum (WEF) in its Global Gender Gap report published this Wednesday (03.31.2021).

The annual index has analyzed the evolution of the gender parity gap since 2006. The WEF took into account four key aspects: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

The current global gender parity gap is 68 percent, according to this year’s report, which analyzed 156 countries. This is half a percentage point less than the previous year. At this rate, it will take 133.4 years to achieve global parity between men and women. This is mainly due to poor performance in large advanced and emerging economies, according to a summary of the report.

The coronavirus pandemic is, in part, responsible for reopening gaps between both genders. Initial data indicate that the economic and social consequences of the pandemic have affected women more severely than men. So far, 5 percent of all employed women worldwide have lost their jobs, compared to 3.9 percent of men. Other data showed a significant decline in the number of women hired for leadership positions, delaying progress by one or two years.

Only two sectors with gender parity

The data shows that gender gaps are more likely in sectors that require disruptive technical skills. Women make up a third or less of the workforce in the cloud computing, engineering and data, and artificial intelligence sectors. Furthermore, a new indicator introduced this year showed that it is more difficult for women to switch to sectors where they are underrepresented.

In the context of the pandemic, women are also more likely to have more stress due to a “double shift”, longer and unpaid work, caused by school closures and poor availability of care services. This is another obstacle for women to obtain leadership positions or enter new sectors.

Political equality for the soil

At just 22.3 percent, political empowerment is the least developed dimension, although it has improved by 2.4 points from last year. In all the countries analyzed, women represented only 25.7 percent of around 35,500 seats in parliament, and 22.8 percent of more than 3,400 ministers worldwide. At the current rate, it will take 145.5 years to achieve gender parity in politics.

Participation and economic opportunities is the second of the least developed gaps. After a year of slight improvement, the latest value is 58 percent. For now, it will take 257.2 years for economic participation and opportunities to be equal for men and women. However, with respect to educational attainment, health and survival, the global gap is 96.3 percent. Full parity should be achieved in 13 years at the current rate, with 30 countries with the goal already achieved. The health and survival gap currently stands at 95.6 percent.

Iceland has remained, for twelve years, the most gender-equal country in the world. Western Europe remained the region that had advanced the most towards gender parity, at 77.5 percent, followed closely by North America, at 76.4 percent. The Middle East and North Africa are the worst performing regions.

The countries that improved the most this year were Lithuania, Serbia, East Timor, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.

(rmr/dz)

Author: Kristie Pladson

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