UK slips further down global gender equality rankings

19th December 2019 / United Kingdom
UK slips further down global gender equality rankings

The UK is falling behind in a global index of gender equality according to the World Economic Forum. In 2019 the UK ranked 21st in the WEF global index, down from 16th the previous year. The index measures progress towards gender parity in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.


Iceland are predictably becoming the nation to follow. They come top in just about everything. And so it is with gender equality as it remains top of the rankings with a score of 0.877 (1 equals gender parity). No less surprising is Norway, Finland and Sweden that follow. Ireland is seventh, up two places, with a score of 0.798. The UK’s score is 0.767 and is the not that great at 13th best score in Europe.

No surprise was the US sitting at 58th globally with a score of 0.724, down from 56th the previous year.

Looking at the four key measurements individually, the UK ranked 58th for economic participation and opportunity with a score of 0.707 and 20th for political empowerment (0.396).

The UK’s scores for health and survival and educational attainment were 0.970 and 0.999 respectively.

The WEF report attributes the economic gender gap to a number of factors. These include stubbornly low levels of women in managerial or leadership positions, wage stagnation, labour force participation and income.

Women have been hit by a “triple whammy”: their high representation in roles hit hardest by automation, for example in retail and clerical roles; too few women entering tech-driven professions where wage growth is most pronounced; finally the lack of care infrastructure and access to capital strongly limit women’s workforce opportunities.

Women spend at least twice as much time on care and voluntary work in every country where data is available, and lack of access to capital prevents women from pursuing entrepreneurial activity, another important income driver.

Globally, the WEF said the gap between men and women had narrowed since 2018, but that it will still take another century for the gap to be eradicated, based on the speed of change. Last year it predicted 108 years for parity. At the current pace, it will take 54 years to close the gap in Western Europe.

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The WEF added that while women were now leading the global institutions such as the World Bank and the European Central Bank, as well as female leaders of Germany, Finland and New Zealand, progress in the politics remained slow, with women holding only 21% of ministerial positions worldwide.

As Britain has decided to support Boris Johnson’s government, phase one of Brexit will now happen at the end of January. The PM has also just announced that his government will now propose a law making Brexit a certainty for the end of 2020 whether it has agreed on a deal with the EU or not – making a hard-Brexit far more likely. That being the case – a trade deal with America will inevitably cause workplace gender equality to widen even further.



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