COVID restores gender equality by a generation, reports | Business and Economy News

A new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found that the coronavirus epidemic has widened the gender gap by a generation and will lead to a concerted effort by policymakers around the world to stop it, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Based on the current trajectory, women will have to wait another 135..6 years to achieve overall equality with men – from 99.5 years in 2020. The report also examines gender gaps in economic participation and opportunities, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

Sadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF, told Al Jazeera, “It is possible to achieve equality in our lifetime, but only if leaders are committed to meaningful steps and goals immediately.”

The Global Gender Gap Index report found that the political gender gap is expected to close in 145.5 years. In the 156 countries examined in the report, only 2.1.1 percent of the parliamentary seats are held by women, and only 22.6 percent of government ministers are women. More than half of the countries in the report – 71 – have never had a woman head of state.

Economically, the index found that it would take 267.6 years to bridge the gender divide, and that in some cases progress could make the epidemic – which the report’s data does not yet fully reflect – more likely to restore parity. While the number of female skilled professionals continues to grow, progress has still been slowed due to the wage gap and the lack of women in senior and managed positions.

The WEF’s index, now in its 15th year, uses the 0-to-100 scale. The score reflects the percentage of closed gender gaps.

Pictured, Togo is one of the five developed countries when it comes to narrowing the gender system, according to the World Economic Forum. [File: Luc Gnago/Reuters]

The Middle East and North Africa region (39.1 percent) has the highest persistence of the gender gap, the WEF found. South Asia (.32.3 percent) is the second lowest performer, in stark contrast to last year.

Northern European countries continued to perform well, with Iceland (89.2 per cent), Finland (86.1 per cent) and Norway (84.9 per cent) leading the way in bridging the gender gap.

According to the WEF, Linguania, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Togo and the United Arab Emirates have narrowed their sex systems by at least 4.4 percentage points or more.

More good news: Gender gaps in education and health are closing.

Forty-seven countries have reached gender equality in education, but still, it will take about 14.2 years to completely close this divide, the WEF said. In terms of health, more than 95 percent of the gender gap has closed.

‘New barrier’

The COVID-19 crisis has reversed the year’s progress in women’s economic and political participation and widened the pre-existing gender gap.

According to the World Economic Forum, for the twelfth time, Iceland is again the most gender-equal country in the world. [File: John Sibley/Reuters]

According to the International Labor Organization, five percent of all working women have lost their jobs or income, compared to 3.9 percent of working women.

As lockdowns and restrictions spread around the world, women found themselves in a balance between professional work and childcare and housework responsibilities – tasks that fell abnormally on them.

Zahidi told Al Jazeera: “The Covid-19 epidemic has created a new barrier for women on the path to gender equality.

The WEF’s findings show that women are more likely to lose their jobs if they work in the sector most affected by the epidemic, they are off “tomorrow’s jobs”.

Coronavirus epidemics have accelerated towards automation and digitization. In cloud computing, however, women make up only 14 percent of the workforce; 20 percent in engineering; 32 percent in data and artificial intelligence, according to the WF

As countries move forward with the passage of COVID-19 relief packages, governments and the private sector will need to include gender-equality elements in their recovery plans and policies.

The key issue is a public-private partnership, WEF argues. Investing in fair access to care leave for both men and women is important to reduce the gender system. Women should also have equal access to mid-level professional refresher training as businesses ensure fair recruitment and promotion policies.

“We know where the solutions are,” Zahidi said. “Now is the time to embed gender equality by designing recovery.”

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