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International Women’s Day – the UN puts spotlight on gender pay gap

Posted on Mar 7, 2017

This year’s International Women’s Day theme – Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 – is putting the spotlight on the gender pay gap, which has slid backwards in terms of progress.

According to World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Index, South Asia is projected to close their gender gap in 46 years, Western Europe in 61 years, Latin America in 72 years and Sub-Saharan Africa in 79 years.

Globally, it would take us another 170 years to achieve gender pay parity.

None of those timelines suit the very specific targets and broader goals set out in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, which the world’s governments agreed on in 2015.

Humanity has 14 years to steer a course for sustainable, equitable development as spelled out in the 17 goals, with gender featuring in many of the targets that refine those goals.

Getting to gender equality needs much more work in all areas

Many projects and initiatives around the world aim to empower women, reduce their vulnerability, ensure their inclusion in decision-making, and advocate for them to be remunerated for their current “unpaid labour”.

Yet fundamental, long-standing gender gaps continue to exist in both developed and developing countries across the world. These range from lack of access to social protection to the lack of women in leadership positions.

It is estimated that economic gender parity would add an additional $240 billion to the GDP of the United Kingdom and $2.5 trillion to that of China by 2020, and that East Asia and the Pacific stop losing between $42 billion and $47 billion annually due to women’s limited access to employment opportunities.

Given the urgency and magnitude of the global challenges that face the world, we must do better at harnessing the leadership, ability and aptitude of women, recognizing their unpaid care and domestic work, and ensuring gender-responsive economic policies for job creation, poverty reduction and sustainable, inclusive growth.

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