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Wait worsens for world gender gap to close

The world’s women have a 134-year wait for gender parity, which will take another five generations, according to the latest assessment by the World Economic Forum.

And that’s three years longer than was predicted just a year ago.

The WEF’s Global Gender Gap 2024 Insight Report found a 0.1 percentage point improvement on last year, rating the world’s global gender gap at 68.5 per cent as Europe continued to dominate those countries closest to parity.

However, it said “the lack of meaningful, widespread change since the last edition effectively slows down the rate of progress to attain parity”.

The World Bank estimates closing the gender gap in employment and entrepreneurship could increase global GDP by more than 20 per cent, highlighting the massive impact women can have.

The report found countries that proactively address gender gaps in their workforce experience increased productivity, returns on investment and stronger innovation.

“They are starting to see gender parity as a competitive advantage in an increasingly tough macro and business environment,” it said.

Australia’s ranking did improve in 2024 – it now ranks 24th out of 146, up from 26th last year – but we sit far behind our sisters across the ditch in New Zealand, which ranked 4th.

World Economic Forum managing director Saadia Zahidi said progress was happening, but it was alarmingly slow.

“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,” Ms Zahidi said.

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

While the number of women in the workforce has gradually increased, significant disparities persist in terms of wages, leadership roles, and representation in higher-paying industries.

The report notes that globally, women continue to earn less than men for similar work and are underrepresented in senior management positions.

A stack of 10 coins with a blue male gender symbol on top is next to a smaller stack of 5 coins with a pink female gender symbol on top, highlighting the gender pay gap. This disparity underscores the importance of supporting women in business and encouraging innovative business ideas for women.