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News & Views

Insights from the Global Gender Gap Report 2017

The World Economic Forum has published its annual Global Gender Gap Report, in which 144 countries are assessed and ranked according their progress in working towards gender parity — a fundamental factor in social and economic prosperity. The Global Gender Gap Index was first introduced in 2006, as a means of both identifying and tracking gender-based disparities.

Each nation in the report is benchmarked across four areas: economic participation and opportunity, health and survival, educational attainment, and political empowerment.

On average, the countries included in the Index have closed 96 per cent of the gap in health outcomes and educational attainment. However, when it comes to economic participation and political empowerment, progress in closing the gender gap remains stagnant.

Average progress on closing the global gender gap is 68 per cent, and an average gap of 32 per cent remains to be closed wordwide. 82 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year’s results.

The top ten highest performing nations in the Global Gender Gap Index are the same as last year, although the rankings have changed, with Scandinavian countries occupying the top three.

By region, Western Europe has a remaining gender gap of 25 per cent, just ahead of North America with 28 per cent. Eastern Europe and Central Asia both have a gap of 29 per cent. Latin America and the Caribbean both have a gap of 29.8 per cent, while East Asia-Pacific has a gap of 31.7 per cent, Sub-Saharan Africa 32.4 per cent, and South Asia 34 per cent. The Middle East and North Africa have both crossed a threshold this year of having a remaining gender gap of just under 40 per cent. All regions record a narrower gender gap in 2017 than they did in 2006.

Researchers working on the report collaborated with LinkedIn to explore the impact of occupational gender gaps, and found that men are underrepresented in education and health sectors, and women are significantly underrepresented in the engineering, construction and technology industries — a scarcity that has already been widely reported.

“The availability of deeper talent pools are disrupted by existing gender biases,” the report states, “and the fields most affected, such as the care economy and the emerging technology sector, are losing out on the benefits of diversity.”

Alarmingly, the report concludes that at its current rate, the global economic gender gap will not be closed for 217 years, while the overall global gap won’t be closed for a century. Economic inclusion is critical to a nation’s ability to thrive, and the economic sphere remain one of the more challenging areas, but also the one where nations stand to benefit significantly; economic gender parity has the potential to add $1.75 trillion in GDP to the United States and $250 billion to the United Kingdom.

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