Washington, DC – The world is still 99.5 years away from achieving gender parity as per the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Many developed nations including the United States and Canada still suffer from gender inequalities at work, in the home, and in public affairs. Canada comes in at number 19 in the Global Gender Gap Index rankings, while the United States ranks 53. There are ongoing social and economic transformations and concerted movements to improve gender equality but equal opportunities remain elusive.
According to UN Women, “Improved education among women has done little to shift deeply entrenched occupational segregation in developed and developing countries. Women continue to carry out a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work. In developing countries, that includes arduous tasks such as water collection, for which women and girls are responsible in 80 percent of households that do not have access to water on the premises.”
According to the WEF Gender Gap Report 2020, “there is no country where men spend the same amount of time on unpaid work as women. In countries where the ratio is lowest, it is still 2:1.”
At an event in Washington DC last year for her book ‘Moment of Lift’, Melinda Gates commented that, “ even in the US, women do 90 minutes of more unpaid labor than men, per day. And 47 percent of the US workforce today are women. So we are asking women to do a dual role. Over the average lifetime of women in the world, that’s 7 years of their life.”
Adding to the gender imbalance is the lack of representation of women in the workplace and in the political arena. Last year the Fortune 500 recorded the highest number of women CEOs, but out of the 500 chief executives leading the highest-grossing firms, just under 7 percent were women. In a study conducted by the Global Media Monitoring Project spanning 20 years and 114 countries, only 24 percent of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news are women. The representation of women in politics has doubled in the last 25 years around the world, but it only “amounts to around 1 in 4 parliamentary seats held by women today” per UN Women, and they are “significantly underrepresented in the highest political positions. In October 2019, there were only 10 women Head of State and 13 women Head of Government across 22 countries, compared with four Head of State and eight Prime Ministers across 12 countries in 1995.”
About 42 percent of women say they have experienced some form of gender discrimination at work, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. The survey asked Americans whether they had faced any of eight different kinds of gender discrimination in the workplace, including being treated as if they were not competent; experiencing repeated, small slights at work; and receiving less support from senior leaders than someone of the opposite sex who was doing the same job.
Much has been written about gender inequality but the fact remains that women must have a seat at the table and be included in policy making otherwise inequality will continue to solidify.
Gender equality strengthens the social fabric, promotes economic growth and resilience of the global community. We can all start by taking a look within our own homes and ensure that there is an equal distribution of unpaid labor. Take a look at your place of work. Is there equity in pay, and is everyone’s voice being heard? Take a look at your community. Is everyone’s voice represented?
We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories and experiences and let’s keep the conversation going to increase gender parity.