After big hit from COVID, gender gap hasn’t rebounded, says World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022. As the global economy enters its third year of continued disruption, it will take another 132 years (up from 136 in 2021) to close the gender gap.

The report suggests that of the 146 economies studied, only one in five managed to reduce the gender gap by at least 1% in the past year. As a result, while gains have been made over the past year, they have only reduced the time it will take to achieve gender parity by four years. This progress hardly compensates for the setback of an entire generation recorded in 2020-2021 at the start of the pandemic.

“The cost of living crisis is disproportionately affecting women after the shock of labor market losses during the pandemic and the continued insufficiency of care infrastructure. Faced with a weak recovery, the government and companies must deploy two sets of efforts: targeted policies to support the return of women to the labor market and the development of female talent in the industries of the future. Otherwise, we risk permanently eroding the gains of past decades and losing future economic returns to diversity,” says Saadia Zahidi, chief executive of the World Economic Forum.

The Global Gender Gap Report, now in its 16th year, measures changes in gender gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; education level; health and survival; and political empowerment. It also explores the impact of recent global shocks on the growing crisis of the gender gap in the labor market.

In the 146 countries covered in 2022, the gender gap in health and survival has narrowed by 95.8%, educational attainment by 94.4%, economic participation and opportunity by 60 .3% and political empowerment 22%. Between 2021 and 2022, the economic participation and opportunity sub-index increased by 1.6%, mainly due to gains for women in professional and technical roles and a narrowing of the wage gap, even whether gender gaps in the labor force have increased. For the health and survival sub-index, there was a slight improvement from 95.7% to 95.8%, while the education level sub-index dropped from 95.2% to 94, 4% and political empowerment stagnated at 22%.

Taking a longer-term view of 16 years, at the current rate of progress, it will take 155 years to close the gender gap in political empowerment – ​​11 more than projected in 2021 – and 151 years for the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity. Although 29 countries have achieved full parity, it will take another 22 years to close the gender gap in educational attainment. And while more than 140 countries have closed at least 95% of their health gaps, the overall decline in health and survival means there could be a reversal.

2022 Global and Regional Highlights

For the 13th consecutive year, Iceland is the most equal country in the world and the only one to have closed more than 90% of the gender gap. The Top 10 countries include:

North America is the best performing region, with 76.9% of its gender gap closed. The number of years it will take to close the gap has increased from 62 to 59. There is a slight improvement in the United States, while Canada’s score is flat.

Europe (76.6%) follows closely, recording a 0.2% improvement since 2021, resulting in a 60-year wait until the gender gap is closed. Six of the top 10 countries are European and nine of the 35 countries in the region improved their score by at least 1%. Albania, Iceland and Luxembourg are the three countries in the region that have made the most progress.

Latin America and the Caribbean (72.6%) ranks third at the regional level, improving by 0.4% since the previous edition. At the current rate of progress, Latin America and the Caribbean will close the gap in 67 years. However, within the region, only six of the 22 countries indexed in this edition have improved their gender gap score by at least one percentage point, suggesting growing regional divergence.

Central Asia (69.1%) is marking time in its progress, with an unchanged score compared to 2021. At this rate, it will take 151 years to close the regional gender gap. Six of the 10 countries in the region saw improved scores, with Moldova, Belarus and Georgia representing the top-ranked countries.

East Asia and the Pacific (69%) saw 13 of the 19 countries in the region progress since the last edition. But at its current pace, the region will need 168 years to close the gender gap. Progress is being made at different rates from one country to another, which risks accentuating regional divergences. The best performing countries in the region are New Zealand (84.1%), the Philippines (78.3%) and Australia (73.8%).

Sub-Saharan Africa (68.7%) recorded its highest score ever, improving by 1.1% over the past year, reflecting positive changes in the economic gender gap in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia , the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. At the current rate, it will take 98 years to close the gender gap.

Middle East and North Africa (63.4%) has the second largest gender gap yet to be closed, with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon being the top performers. Some progress has been made in closing the economic gender gap (+2%), with a number of countries improving women’s participation in the labor market and the share of women in technical roles. The region’s score remains similar to the last edition, giving a timeframe of 115 years to close the gap.

South Asia (62.3%) has the largest gender gap of any region, with low scores across all measured gender gaps and little progress in most countries since the last edition. At the current rate, it will take 197 years to close the gender gap in the region. The economic gender gap has narrowed by 1.8%, with an increase in the share of women in professional and technical roles in countries such as Bangladesh and India, as well as in Nepal.

Gender Gaps in the Labor Force: A Looming Crisis

Global gender parity for labor force participation has been slowly declining since 2009 in the Global Gender Gap Index. The trend, however, was exacerbated in 2020, when gender parity scores fell precipitously in two consecutive editions. Thus, in 2022, gender parity in the labor force stands at 62.9%, the lowest level recorded since the creation of the index. Among workers who remained in the labor market, unemployment rates rose. While current unemployment rates for both men and women are above pre-pandemic levels, the global unemployment rate for women in 2021 (6.4%) was higher than that for men (6.1%).

The disproportionate negative impact of the pandemic on the labor market can be explained partly by the sectoral composition of the shock and partly by the persistent disparities in care responsibilities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The majority of care work fell to women as day care centers and schools were closed. Even before the pandemic, men’s share of time in unpaid work as a proportion of total work was 19%, while women’s was 55%.

The picture is clearer when it comes to women in organizational leadership. According to LinkedIn high-frequency data from 23 leading economies, women have been hired into leadership positions in increasing numbers since 2016. While the share of women hired into leadership roles was 33.3% in 2016 in this group of countries, it rose to 36.9%. in 2022. Progress has stalled during the pandemic, with the annual share of women hired into leadership roles holding steady at 35% between 2019 and 2020, but then increasing to 36% in 2021.

However, this overall increase masks differences between sectors. Among the industries that hired the highest proportion of women in leadership positions in 2021 are non-governmental organizations and associations (54%), education (49%), government and the public sector (46%), personal services and well-being (46%). %), health and care services (46%) and media and communications (46%). By contrast, six industries hired significantly more men than women in leadership positions in 2021: technology (30%), agriculture (28%), energy (25%), supply chain and transportation (25%). ), manufacturing (22%) and infrastructure (21%).

Finally, learning is also segmented by gender, changing the mix of available talent with future-ready skills. In higher education globally, women continue to be over-represented in education, health and wellness tracks compared to men and under-represented in STEM fields. There are nearly four times as many men as women graduates in information and communication technology (ICT) and engineering and manufacturing. High-frequency data from Coursera suggests gender gaps are smaller in online registration. In ICT, for example, gender parity increased in online training between 2019 and 2021 during an overall increase in online learning. The report also features new wealth and health metrics from data collaborations with WTW and Hologic.

Urgency to act

Closing gender gaps remains a key driver of national prosperity. Countries that invest in all of their human capital and make it easier for their people to balance work and family life tend to be more prosperous. With an increasingly uncertain economic outlook, Global Gender Gap Report 2022 calls on more leaders to unleash the creativity and dynamism of their countries’ human capital to overcome the current crises and accelerate a vigorous recovery.

Gender Gap Accelerators work with government and business in advanced and developing economies to create structured public-private collaborations for rapid acceleration towards economic parity, focusing on increasing women’s participation in the labor market, reducing the gender pay gap and helping more women to access leadership roles and develop in-demand skills. The model has been adopted in 12 economies, with Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Japan and Mexico joining the accelerator network in 2021-2022.