The World Economic Forum released an annual report after analysing and tracking disparities between different 156 countries. The announcement took note of four key areas: education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment. The study is done by integrating the latest statistics derived from international organisations and a survey of executives. The ongoing pandemic has widened the gender gap between men and women in developed and developing economies across the globe. Covid-19 has made it even more challenging to nurture inclusive and prosperous economies and societies where men and women both find themselves in an equal world. The lockdown and rapid digitalisation have hit demanding sectors in which women are more frequently employed. This disproportionate impact on women has taken back years of progress made towards gender sensitivity and gender equality.
Have To Wait for Another 135.6 Yrs To Fill The Gender Parity
Closing schools put an extra burden on working women who had to provide childcare for children amid a job crisis where women experienced a higher unemployment rate than men. In its annual report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has stated that the effects of gender disparity will be felt on a long-term basis, even after the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end. The organisation, through its analysis, predicts it will take 135.6 years to fill the gender parity gap, up from a generation from the time in which the pandemic hit us. Sectors such as tourism and retail generally happen to employ many more women than men; these sectors have been impacted in the worst manner by the ongoing pandemic. Various governments need to initiate policies that prioritise gender equality in multiple workplaces and hard-hit sectors to prevent long-term scarring in the labour market. Investing in inclusive workplaces and creating more equitable care systems would be the right way forward to make up for the damage instilled by the pandemic. Big corporates and leaders must advance towards bringing more women in leadership positions whilst reskilling and redeploying gender parity into the future of work.
A previous report published by WEF in collaboration with the global elite in Davos'sDavos's plush Swiss ski resort stated that the gender parity between men and women across various arenas would be reached within 99.5 years. However, this year's annual report shows the world is falling back to close the gender gap for another 135.6 years. This only proves that another generation of women will continue to wait for gender parity.
The Struggle Would End After 267.6 Years
On a positive note, women can be seen closing the gender gap in various sectors like health and education. At the same time, inequality at the workplace is still a struggle that would only end after 267.6 years, and the pandemic has only made it worse, as stated by the report. The WEF pointed out the study in which the UN's International Labor Organization mentioned that women were more likely to lose their jobs due to the crisis. They are primarily represented disproportionately in sectors that are directly disrupted by the lockdowns. Another LinkedIn data referenced in the report stated that women were being hired back at a much slower rate than men when offices started to open again. Increased housework and childcare only made the situation more difficult for women across the globe.
In a statement, the managing director of WEF said, "If we want a dynamic future economy, women need to be represented; this is the moment to embed gender parity by design into the recovery."
Political leadership gaps between men and women have only widened during the pandemic, making it even more challenging to have equal representation in various governments and parliaments, as stated in the study by WEF. Women continue to hold a mere 22.6 per cent of ministerial positions and just over a quarter of parliamentary seats worldwide. In the current pace at which gender inequality is unfolding, it would take over 145.5 years for the political gender gap to entirely close, as highlighted in the report. In 81 countries, there has never been a woman head of state, as of 15th January 2021, added the information. It is important to note that progress across different categories differs significantly in various countries. According to the report, Western European countries could successfully close their gender gap in 52.1 years. At the same time, countries in the Middle East and North Africa would take 142.4 years to do so. When one analysis the overall performance, the Nordic countries have once again dominated the top of the table. The gender gap between men and women remained the narrowest in Iceland for the 12th running year. Finland and Norway followed Iceland in improving their respective gender gap and parity index.
The report also prioritised the most effective policies needed to accelerate the rate at which countries can progress towards closing these gender gaps over time. Due to a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, overall income disparities are still only halfway towards being overpowered and bridged. Progress towards wage equality seems to increase at a prolonged rate in many countries, as cited in the report. With many studies that have proven the possibility of better financial performance, more and more organisations need to be open to hiring an equal number of men and women due to a more diversified team of employees.
Saadia Zahidi, the managing director of WEF, told CNBC in an interview that "Employers can also help women out of higher relative job losses and lower hiring rates in industries that are bouncing back, If businesses want to have the … creativity and innovation that will get them out of the crisis, they need diversity, and so they need to think of this as a business investment as well." The report further suggests that gender positive and gender-equal policies can help tackle the crisis better on an overall basis. When people learn to be more gender-sensitive in their approach towards economic gains, gender equality will be at par for both men and women in all areas of society. Occupational segregation must be avoided at all costs to prevent widening the gender gap in different regions across the globe.