New World Economic Forum report: East Asia will take 189 years to achieve gender equality

On June 20, the World Economic Forum released the 2023 Global Gender Gap Statement. Chen showed that although the global gender equality status has returned to the pre-COVID-19 level, the growth of gender equality has slowed down seriously, and the multi-country index even showed a flash of growth.

Geographically, Europe is the most gender-equal region, with Iceland topping the list for the 14th year in a row. East Asia and the Pacific region showed rapid growth, with China, Japan and South Korea ranking at the bottom. At the current pace, it will take 58 years longer than the global average of 131 years for the region to achieve gender equality.

Looking at the global unemployment rate, women’s unemployment rate is still higher than men’s, and men occupy a larger proportion of executive positions than women. The proportion of female workers in emerging fields such as technology and AI is much lower than that of men.

The World Economic Forum’s report, which covers 146 countries, breaks down gender differences in four categories: economic participation, political participation, education, health and career status. Since 2006, the company has published a report of gender differences every year.

In this year’s report, the 146 countries cleared 68.4 percent of the gender gap, only 0.3 percentage points lower than when the report was published last year and 4.1 percentage points lower than when the report was first published in 2006. As the process of gender equality has all but stopped, it is estimated that the world will not achieve gender equality until 2154, as predicted last year.

Saadia Zahidi, executive director of the World Economic Forum, said the coronavirus pandemic, economic and geopolitical crises have had a negative impact on gender equality around the world. Over the past year, gender inequalities in health and education have worsened, but the pause in political participation has come to an end, and women’s economic participation has surged.

At the current rate, it will take only 16 years to achieve gender equality in teaching, but 162 and 169 years, respectively, to achieve equality in politics and economics.

The 10 countries with the smallest gender gaps out of 146 were Iceland, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia, Lithuania and Belgium. The researchers developed a gender equality index based on four categories, including economic participation. The closer the index is to 1, the more equal the country is.

No country has achieved full gender equality yet, but the top nine countries have eliminated at least 80% of the gender gap. Iceland is the only country to eliminate more than 90 percent of the gender gap, making it the world’s most gender-equal country for the 14th consecutive year.

By region, Europe has the best gender equality in the world, clearing 76.3% of the gender gap. A third of the countries in the region made it into the global top 20, and more than half eliminated 75% of the gender gap. It is estimated that it will take 67 years for Europe to achieve gender equality, the second shortest of any region.

North America came in second after Europe, with 75% of the gender gap erased. Last year, North America was the world’s best region for gender equality, but this year’s statistics show that North America has grown by 1.9 percentage points. The United States grew 2.1 percent, while Canada grew 0.2 percent. The United States ranked 43rd out of 146 countries.

Latin America and the Caribbean region ranked third in the regional rankings, clearing 74.3% of the gender gap. But gender equality in the region stalled at a rapid rate, down 1.7 percentage points from last year’s report. It is estimated that the region will achieve gender equality in just 53 years, the shortest of any region.

In East Asia and the Pacific, the picture is grim. The region cleared 68.8% of the gender gap, ranking fifth out of eight regions. But over the past decade, growth in gender equality in East Asia and the Pacific has stalled. Compared with last year’s report, this year’s data also grew by 0.2 percentage points.

Of the 19 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, 11 have improved compared to last year, eight have grown, and one has not changed. New Zealand, the Philippines, Australia and Singapore are the best countries in the region for gender equality, while Fiji, Myanmar and Japan are at the bottom.

Japan ranked 19th, with a gender equality index of 0.647, the lowest in East Asia and the Pacific. South Korea and China ranked 14th and 15th respectively. Globally, China, Japan and South Korea ranked 107th, 125th and 105th, respectively, with their gender equality index lower than last year.

Chen guesses that at the current pace, it will take another 189 years for East Asia and the Pacific to achieve gender equality. This is not only higher than the global average of 131 years, but also higher than the Middle East and North Africa region of 152 years.

The Middle East and North Africa region had the worst gender equality among the eight regions, clearing 62.6% of the gender gap, down 0.9 percentage points from last year’s report. The United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain are the best countries in the region for gender equality, while Morocco, Oman and Algeria are at the bottom.

Looking at the unemployment situation, the rate of women entering or returning to work in the past year was slightly higher than that of men, and the gender parity in the labor force participation rate fell to 64 percent from 63 percent reported last year. But women’s unemployment rates remain higher than men’s, at 4.5 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

In addition, it is more common for women to rest in the informal economy. From 2020, four out of every five jobs created for women will be in the informal economy.

Citing a survey of 163 countries by linkedin, a workplace networking service, Chen said women made up 41.9 percent of the workforce so far this year, but only 32.2 percent of senior mentoring positions (including director, vice president or executive). In executive positions, the share of women falls to 25 per cent.

Over the past eight years, the percentage of women in guiding positions has steadily increased by 1% per year. This trend began to worsen in 2022 and grew to 2021 levels this year.

In terms of job types, health care nurses, teaching and customer service are still dominated by female labor force, and female labor force accounts for 64.7% of the health care nurses. The kerosene, gas, mining and infrastructure sectors have the fewest female workers, accounting for only about 22% of the workforce.

The science, skill, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field will be a fast-growing industry in the future, but only 29.2% of the STEM workforce is female. In the current hot AI industry, women workers accounted for 30%, down 4 percentage points from 2016.

Compared with economic participation, gender equality in political participation still has a long way to go. As of December 31, 2022, 27.9% of the world’s countries have female heads of state. Last year, 22.9 percent of members of parliament in 76 countries around the world were women.


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