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.
Figure 6 charts the evolution of the Global Gender Gap Index and its subindexes since the Report’s first edition in 2006. All things held equal, with current trends, the overall global gender gap can be closed in exactly 100 years across the 106 countries covered since the inception of the Report, compared to 83 years last year, which—while similarly unsatisfactory—would, at a minimum, have been just within the statistical lifetime of baby girls born today. Some of the most challenging gender gaps remain in the economic sphere. At the current rate of change, and given the continued widening of the economic gender gap already observed last year, it will now not be closed for another 217 years. This year, the economic gender gap 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 13 years. The widest gender gap, in the political dimension, is also the one exhibiting the most progress, narrowing by 9% since 2006, despite a slowdown in progress this year. On current trends, it could be closed within 99 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 selected large countries, in particular China and India.
Figure 7 tracks the evolution of the overall Index since 2006 by geographic region. It highlights the local progress towards gender parity made over the past decade in regions such as Western Europe, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. While all regions have recorded a narrower gender gap than they did 11 years ago, Figure 7 nevertheless also reveals that more efforts will continue to be needed in all world regions to accelerate progress. All things held equal, with current rates of progress, the overall global gender gap can be closed in 61 years in Western Europe, 62 years in South Asia, 79 years in Latin America and the Caribbean, 102 years in Sub-Saharan Africa, 128 years in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 157 years in the Middle East and North Africa, 161 years in East Asia and the Pacific, and 168 years in North America. 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.