The global pay gap between men and women will take 202 years to close, because it is so vast and the pace of change so slow, according to the World Economic Forum.
The WEF, which organises the annual meeting of business and political leaders in Davos, said the global gender pay gap has narrowed slightly over the past year, but the number of women in the professional workplace has fallen. In 2017, the WEF estimated that it would take 217 years to close the pay gap.
“The overall picture is that gender equality has stalled,” Saadia Zahidi, the WEF’s head of social and economic agendas, said. “The future of our labour market may not be as equal as the trajectory we thought we were on.”
The WEF found that on average women across the world are paid just 63% of what men earn. There is not a single country where women are paid as much as men. Laos, in south-east Asia, is the closest to achieving parity with women earning 91% of what men are paid.
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Yemen, Syria and Iraq have the biggest pay gaps with women being paid less than 30% the level of mens’ wages. The WEF ranked the UK 50th out of 149 countries for gender pay, with women collecting 70% of that paid to men.
“In the workplace, women still encounter significant obstacles in taking on managerial or senior official roles,” the report said. “When we consider only managers for the subset of countries for which recent data are available, just about 34% of global managers are women.”
Women are also far behind in politics, and the WEF estimated that at the current pace of change it will take 107 years until there are as many female politicians as male.
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“When it comes to political and economic leadership, the world still has a long way to go,” the report said. “Across the 149 countries assessed, there are just 17 that currently have women as heads of state, while, on average, just 18% of ministers and 24% of parliamentarians globally are women.”
Iceland is the most equal country in terms of political roles, but there is still a 33% gap and it has widened compared to last year.
“Just six other countries (Nicaragua, Norway, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Finland and Sweden) have closed at least 50% of their gap,” the report said. “On the other end of the spectrum, almost one-quarter of the countries assessed have closed less than 10% of their gender gap, and the four worst-performing countries – Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Yemen – have yet to bridge over 97% of their gap.”
Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the WEF, said: “The equal contribution of women and men in this process of deep economic and societal transformation is critical. More than ever, societies cannot afford to lose out on the skills, ideas and perspectives of half of humanity.”
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