Why gen­der par­ity

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The high cost of gen­der in­equal­ity has been doc­u­mented ex­ten­sively. But a new study by the McKin­sey Global In­sti­tute es­ti­mates that it is even higher than pre­vi­ously thought – with far-reach­ing con­se­quences.

The McKin­sey study used 15 in­di­ca­tors – in­clud­ing com­mon mea­sure­ments of eco­nomic equal­ity, like wages and la­bor-force par­tic­i­pa­tion rates, as well as met­rics for so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, and le­gal equal­ity – to as­sign “gen­der par­ity scores” to 95 coun­tries, ac­count­ing for 97% of global GDP and 93% of the world’s women. Coun­tries also re­ceived scores for in­di­vid­ual in­di­ca­tors.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, high scores on so­cial in­di­ca­tors cor­re­spond with high scores on eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors. More­over, higher gen­der-par­ity scores strongly cor­re­late with higher lev­els of devel­op­ment, as mea­sured by GDP per capita and the de­gree of ur­ban­i­sa­tion. The most de­vel­oped re­gions of Europe and North Amer­ica are clos­est to gen­der par­ity, while the still-de­vel­op­ing re­gion of South Asia has the fur­thest to go. Within re­gions, how­ever, there are sig­nif­i­cant dis­par­i­ties, ow­ing partly to dif­fer­ences in po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion and pol­icy pri­or­i­ties.

One over­ar­ch­ing con­clu­sion of the McKin­sey study is that, de­spite progress in many parts of the world, gen­der in­equal­ity re­mains sig­nif­i­cant and multi-di­men­sional. Forty of the coun­tries stud­ied still ex­hibit high or very high lev­els of gen­der in­equal­ity in most as­pects of work – es­pe­cially la­bor-force par­tic­i­pa­tion rates, wages, lead­er­ship po­si­tions, and un­paid care work – as well as in le­gal pro­tec­tions, po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and vi­o­lence against women.

The costs of this in­equal­ity are sub­stan­tial. If women matched men in terms of work – not only par­tic­i­pat­ing in the labour force at the same rate, but also work­ing as many hours and in the same sec­tors – global GDP could in­crease by an es­ti­mated $28 trln, or 26%, by 2025. That is like adding an­other United States and China to the world econ­omy. Clos­ing the gen­der gap in labour-force par­tic­i­pa­tion would de­liver 54% of those gains; align­ing rates of part-time work would pro­vide an­other 23%; and shift­ing women into higher- pro­duc­tiv­ity sec­tors to match the em­ploy­ment pat­tern men would ac­count for the rest.

Given re­cent rates of progress, it is un­re­al­is­tic to ex­pect full gen­der par­ity in the world of work in the fore­see­able fu­ture. But coun­tries could match gains in the best­per­form­ing econ­omy in their re­gion. That would add up to $12 trln to global GDP by 2025, boost­ing GDP by 16% in In­dia and about 10% in North Amer­ica and Europe.

To achieve this, the McKin­sey study rec­om­mends that govern­ments, non-prof­its, and busi­nesses em­pha­sise progress in four key ar­eas: ed­u­ca­tion, le­gal rights, ac­cess to fi­nan­cial and dig­i­tal ser­vices, and un­paid care work. As th­ese crit­i­cal and mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing ef­forts boosted women’s eco­nomic stand­ing, they would nat­u­rally help to im­prove women’s so­cial po­si­tion, re­flected in bet­ter health out­comes, in­creased phys­i­cal se­cu­rity, and greater po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

The first step is im­proved ed­u­ca­tion and skills train­ing, which have been proven to raise fe­male labour-force par­tic­i­pa­tion. Smaller dif­fer­ences in ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment be­tween men and women are strongly cor­re­lated with higher sta­tus for girls and women, which helps to re­duce the in­ci­dence of sex-se­lec­tive abor­tions, child mar­riage, and


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