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Women: want to earn as much as men? You now only have to wait until 2186

The UK has dropped to 20th from 18th last year, well below its top 10 position in 2006

Zlata Rodionova
Wednesday 26 October 2016 10:08 BST
The UK gender pay gap is currently at its lowest level ever - just over 18 per cent – according to the most recently available Government data
The UK gender pay gap is currently at its lowest level ever - just over 18 per cent – according to the most recently available Government data

Women may have to wait as long as 170 years to establish parity with men when it comes to pay and employment opportunities, a new report has found.

The report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), found that economic disparity between women and men around the world was rising due to a “dramatic slowdown in progress” with the estimate for when the economic gap between men and women could close dropping to 2186 this year.

This is a severe setback from last year when the WEF predicted parity will be achieved by 2133.

The report measures progress towards parity between men and women in four areas: education, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment.

Progress towards parity in the economic opportunity index – the pillar that measures income and employment opportunities - has slowed dramatically around the world. The gap now stands at 59 per cent – about the level seen during the financial crisis in 2008.


Salary is a key factor in this widening gap. Women around the world on average are earning just over half of what men make, despite working longer hours, taking paid and unpaid work into account.

Another factor is a drop in women's labour force participation, with the global average for women standing at 54 per cent compared to 81 per cent for men.

WEF said: “The world is facing an acute misuse of talent by not acting faster to tackle gender inequality, which could put economic growth at risk and deprive economies of the opportunity to develop,” according to a statement issued by the WEF.

More progress has been made in the education index, with the gender gap there having closed 95 per cent. Similarly, the health and survival index has also improved, with that gap having closed 96 per cent.

Scandinavian countries remain the most gender-equal countries, with Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden taking the top four positions. Rwanda moved in front of Ireland to take the 5th position.

The UK has dropped to 20th from 18th last year, well below its position in 2006 when it ranked in the top 10.

“It’s extremely disappointing to see that the UK has fallen to number 20 in the top twenty most gender equal countries and that out of 144 countries it can manage only 64th place in terms of health and survival; 53rd place for economic opportunity, and has fallen to 24th place in terms of political empowerment as the number of female MPs has dropped,” said Women’s Equality Party (WE) leader Sophie Walker.

“The United Kingdom should be spearheading progress towards gender equality, instead of contributing to this global slowdown in human rights,” she added.

Elsewhere, the US lost 17 places since last year dropping to 45, primarily due to a more transparent measure for the estimated earned income

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