Gender gap grows again after a decade

A century until women will have the same chances as men, World Economic Forum says

In its latest annual global gender gap report, the forum assessed 144 countries based on differences between men and women in terms of economic participation in the workforce, education, health and political empowerment. "With more than 50 years having passed since the inauguration of the nation's first female prime minister in 1966, maintaining its global top 20 ranking on the political empowerment sub-index will require India to make progress on this dimension with a new generation of female political leadership", says the report.

The global pay gap between men and women has widened to its largest figure in almost a decade, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) study published on Thursday. On average 66 per cent of women's work is unpaid, says the report.

However, gender equality does appear to promote better economic performance, according to numerous studies.

According to the report, "out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 82 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year, while 60 have seen it decrease". For last years, Iceland has remained the world's most gender-equal country.

WEF estimated that closing the pay gap could add an extra $310 billion (€265 billion) to Germany's GDP (ranked No. 12 on the list).

But it continues to lag behind in economic participation and opportunities for women in particular.

According to the report's predictions, western Europe is likely to close its economic gender gap in 47 years, whereas it may take 580 years for the Middle East and North Africa to do so.

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In the space of just one year, India has nosedived from 87th to 108th on the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI).

This is slightly down from the 68.3% measured previous year.

"In 2017, we should not be seeing progress towards gender parity shift into reverse", Saadia Zahidi, WEF head of education, gender and work, said in a statement. The march toward gender equality in education could reach the finish line within a mere 13 years, it said. The UK ranks 95th in the world for income equality, with women in the UK earning on average 45% less per year than men.

And the situation varies greatly from country to country and region to region.

Among the world's 20 leading economies, France fared the best, taking 11th place overall, up from 17th place a year ago and 70th place in 2006.

The U.S. fell four places to 49th place among all the countries ranked, which places us at only 77% of the way to gender parity in economic opportunity. They're buoyant in the parity rankings overall, but only because they have risen in other areas-for instance, there are more women in senior political positions.

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