Gender parity is at least 134 years away, WEF report shows

Full gender parity could take another five generations, the WEF says. File picture: Emmanuele Contini / via AFP.

Full gender parity could take another five generations, the WEF says. File picture: Emmanuele Contini / via AFP.

Published Jun 12, 2024


The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its 2024 Global Gender Gap report and although it shows that female representation is improving, full gender parity is still some way off.

134 years, or around five generations, to be precise.

According to the report, parity in global labour force participation is recovering, currently standing at 65.7%, which is up from the pandemic low of 62.3%.

Globally the overall gender parity score stands at 68.5%, which is a 0.1% increase over 2023.

Female representation in the political sphere has improved at both the local and federal level, but top positions remain largely inaccessible to females, the WEF said. However, this representation could improve in 2024, the biggest election year in history.

LinkedIn data also shows that women are still rare in top-level positions in industry.

Image: WEF.

In the Global Gender Gap Index Rankings for 2024, Iceland came out tops with 93.5%, followed by Finland and Norway, with European countries accounting for seven of the top ten positions. Interestingly, Namibia ranked eighth at 80.5%.

South Africa ranked second among African nations, and 18th in the world, having gained two places year-on-year with a gender parity score of 78.5%.

Sub-saharan Africa ranks sixth among the regions with a score of 68.4%, putting it ahead of Southern Asia as well as the Middle East and North Africa.

Sub-saharan Africa has shown significant progress in political empowerment, with countries like Namibia and South Africa leading the way, the WEF said. However, economic participation and educational attainment still present challenges.

Significant progress can also be seen in Latin America as well as the Caribbean, which achieved an overall gender parity score of 74.2% and the region’s highest economic parity score to date of 65.7%.

“Despite some bright spots, the slow and incremental gains highlighted in this year's Global Gender Gap Report underscore the urgent need for a renewed global commitment to achieving gender parity, particularly in economic and political spheres,” said WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi.

“We cannot wait until 2158 for parity. The time for decisive action is now."

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