The feminist movement has fought for social, political, and economic equality between the sexes for over a century. Women may have the vote, equal access to education, and workplace rights in the UK however it’d seem there’s still a lot of progress to be made, both in the UK and globally. The UK has fallen six places in the gender equality ranking over the past year, according to the World Economic Forum. The non-profit organisation which organises a meeting of business leaders and politicians annually in Davos, Switzerland has highlighted that, while the UK may have committed to improving gender equality and closing the pay gap, it looks like little progress is being made.
When the WEF looks at the factors that can close the gender pay gap and improve gender equality, they take into consideration access and involvement in politics, economics, health, and education. The UK ranked 15th most equal nation in the world in 2018. In 2019, this has dropped to 21st. Speaking to the Guardian, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF Klaus Schwab said, “This year’s report highlights the growing urgency for action. Without the equal inclusion of half of the world’s talent, we will not be able to deliver on the promise of the fourth industrial revolution for all of society, grow our economies for greater shared prosperity or achieve the UN sustainable development goals.” He continued:
At the present rate of change, it will take nearly a century to achieve parity, a timeline we simply cannot accept in today’s globalised world, especially among younger generations who hold increasingly progressive views of gender equality.
The gender pay gap is defined as the average difference between the hourly pay for men and women. After April 2017, when the Equality Act was implemented, companies with more than 250 employers were required to report their gender pay gap figures every year. Looking at statistics collected globally, the WEF predicted it’d take women 99.5 years to be on an equal footing to men if countries continued to make fast progress. However, it said, “at the slow speed experienced over the period 2006–2020, it will take 257 years to close this gap.”
There was little change when it came to the countries that were ranked top as the most equal nations based on sex. Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden took the top spots. Nicaragua finished off the top five. New Zealand and Ireland came in sixth and seventh, followed by Spain and Rwanda. Germany finished off the top 10.
The fact that the UK isn’t making progress but actively regressing is super disheartening. The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 said that the gender wage gap in the UK was 16%. This is compared to 7% in Sweden and Norway. The high number of women in part-time work in the UK may have something to do with this. It’s unacceptable that coming into 2020 the WEF think it’ll still take 257 years to close the gender pay gap.