More than 100 years after women starting demanding equal rights through the pioneering work of the Suffragettes in the UK, we are still far away from achieving gender equality, despite impressive progress in recent decades. And it will take many decades to achieve total gender parity, depending on certain variables and trends.
This is the core finding of the 2016 edition of the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report. The Global Gender Gap Index was first launched in 2006 to highlight the massive gender chasm across the world and track progress over time.
It benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, education, health and political criteria, and provides country rankings for geographical and income comparisons.
One of the key positive findings in the latest report is that, on average, 144 countries have closed 96 percent of the gap in health outcomes between women and men – although it remains the same as last year – and more than 95 percent of the gap in educational results, an improvement of one percent on last year’s figures and the best result since the index started.
However, the gap has widened in other key areas. The closing of the economic participation gap has stalled and even reversed, now standing at 59 percent. In terms of political participation, only 23 percent of the gap has been closed.
All factors taken into account, the 2016 global gender gap scored 0.683, meaning an average gap of 31.7% remains to be closed worldwide across the four Index dimensions used to assess universal gender parity.
Progress is not even and inexorable. Out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 74 have seen it decrease. However, 68 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year.
Are we going to get there one day? WEF experts think so, but not anytime in the near future. Based on current figures, they do expect the gender gap to be closed at the current rate of change, but only in 83 years across the 107 countries covered by the index since it was launched. And. given the widening of income gap since last year, that estimate could stretch to 170 years.
Image credit: WEF