Progress over Time
Since 2006, the Global Gender Gap Report has tracked progress in closing gender gaps. Each year, the rate of change can estimate the time required to close the divide between women and men in employment, education, health and politics.
Figure 5: Evolution of the Global Gender Gap Index and its subindexes over time
Figure 5 charts the evolution of the Global Gender Gap Index and its subindexes since the report’s first edition in 2006. Overall, the gender gap has reduced by 0.6 percentage points since 2018 and by a compounded 4 percentage points since 2006 (or an average of almost 0.3 points a year). All things being equal, with current trends, the overall global gender gap can be closed in 99.5 years. This is almost 10 years less than reported in the last edition and is mainly driven by faster progress in the political empowerment dimension.
The Political Empowerment gender gap globally improves to a score of 24.7%, which is 1.8 percentage points higher than last year and represents the most significant improvement since 2006. On average, this dimension has improved by 0.75 points every year. Should progress continue at the same rate, it will take 95 years to close this gap, a much more positive outlook than the 107 years registered by last year’s assessment.
While, on average, all the indicators composing this subindex register an improvement this year, there has been a particular strong increase in the number of women in terms of ministerial positions in 2019. Although the number of women ministers remains low, this progress will hopefully contribute to generating a more women-friendly environment in political parties and institutions while setting role models for the private sector as well.
Conversely, the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex gap has widened slightly and is the only subindex that has regressed this year. The global 2020 score (57.8%) is 0.35 percentage points lower than last year, but it is still better than it was 14 years ago. On average, the economic gender gap has closed by 0.15 percentage points every year over the 2006–2019 period. This progress is certainly too slow. At this rate, it will take 257 years to close this gap. This shows that while the time required to close the overall gender gap averages out the progresses across all four dimensions tracked by the Global Gender Gap Index, it may take an even longer time to ensure full gender parity is achieved across all dimensions.
Within this subindex, generally positive trends in share of women among skilled workers and senior officials are counterbalanced by stagnating or reversing gaps in labour market participation and monetary rewards. When it comes to wage gaps, the negative trend is mostly explained by diverging regional trends rather than by a common direction across all countries. As analysed in Box 1, while in OECD countries wage gaps over the past decade are on a declining trend, they are widening in emerging and developing economies. The global declining trend is therefore due to the fact that widening gaps in emerging and developing economies have outweighed the progresses made by OECD countries.
Closing gender gaps in the remaining two subindexes is likely to happen much sooner. On current trends, the Educational Attainment gender gap can be fully closed in just 12 years. Global performance is virtually unchanged since last year and remains above 96% or less than 4% from full parity. To achieve a perfect 100%, it will still require some institutional and cultural changes that would improve participation of both men and women in higher education in the countries where there is still unequal access to school.
The time it would take to close the Health and Survival gender gap remains undefined. It is the smallest gap and has remained substantially stable over the years and can be considered virtually closed in most countries. However, it won’t be fully closed as long as specific issues remain in some of the most populous countries (e.g. China and India).