Progress over time
With the economic and business case for gender parity becoming ever clearer, there is an urgent need for reliable metrics to capture the progress achieved over time. Since 2006, the Global Gender Gap Report has served as just such a global benchmark for tracking progress in closing gender gaps. Each year, the rate of change helps predict the projected time to closing the divide between women and men’s parity in employment, education, health and politics.
All things held equal, with current trends, the overall global gender gap can be closed in 83 years across the 107 countries covered since the inception of the Report—just within the statistical lifetime of baby girls born today. However, the most challenging gender gaps remain in the economic sphere and in health. At the current rate of change, and given the widening economic gender gap since last year, it will not be closed for another 170 years. The economic gender gap this year has reverted back to where it stood in 2008, after a peak in 2013. On the other hand, on current trends, the education–specific gender gap could be reduced to parity within the next 10 years. The currently widest gender gap, in the political dimension, is also the one exhibiting the most progress, narrowing by 9% since 2006. On current trends, it could be closed within 82 years. The time to close the health gender gap remains undefined. Formally the smallest gap, it has oscillated in size with a general downward trend. Today, the gap is larger than it stood in 2006, in part due to specific issues in select countries, in particular China and India.
Some regions should expect to see their gender gaps narrow faster than the global rate of change. Among these are South Asia, with a projected closing of the gender gap in 46 years, Western Europe in 61 years, Latin America in 72 years and Sub-Saharan Africa, due to achieve parity in 79 years. Projections for other world regions suggest closing their gaps will take longer than 100 years, namely 129 years in the Middle East and North Africa, 146 years in East Asia and the Pacific, and 149 years in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Given the slow progress over the last decade, the gender gap in North America is expected to close in 158 years. None of these forecasts are foregone conclusions. Instead they reflect the current state of progress and serve as a call to action to policymakers and other stakeholders to accelerate gender equality.