Women will wait 217 years for pay gap to close, WEF says

Gender parity ‘shifting into reverse’ as World Economic Forum adds 47 years to time needed to reach workplace equality

Women around the globe may have to wait more than two centuries to achieve equality in the workplace, according to new research.

The World Economic Forum, best known for its annual gathering in the Swiss resort of Davos, said it would take 217 years for disparities in the pay and employment opportunities of men and women to end. This is significantly longer than the 170 years its researchers calculated a year ago.

Taking other indicators such as access to healthcare and education and participation in politics in account, the overall gender gap will take 100 years to close – also longer than the 83 years the WEF researchers predicted last year.

It is the first time since the WEF began publishing its gender gap report in 2006 that “slow but steady progress” towards parity between men and women has halted.

Saadia Zahidi, the WEF’s head of education, gender and work, said: “In 2017 we should not be seeing progress towards gender parity shift into reverse. Gender equality is both a moral and economic imperative. Some countries understand this and they are now seeing dividends from the proactive measures they have taken to address their gender gaps.”

The research ranks 144 countries on the gap between women and men based on economic, health, education and political indicators.

The UK has risen five places since last year to 15th on the index, largely as a result of improvement in the political indicators after the appointment of Theresa May as prime minister in 2016. When the index started in 2006, the UK was ranked ninth.

The report cites research from the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showing that, in the UK alone, economic gender parity could add $250bn (£188bn) to GDP.

Iceland is top of the index after closing 88% of its gap, and has been the world’s most gender-equal country for nine years, according to the WEF. It has pulled away from the competition as Norway and Finland, in second and third positions, experienced a widening in their equality ratings.


Jill Treanor

The GuardianTramp

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