File picture: Reuters
File picture: Reuters

Pandemic pushes gender parity back by a generation – WEF report

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Mar 31, 2021

Share this article:

The Covid-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn has impacted women more severely than men and has widened the gender gap by a generation.

On Wednesday, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published its annual Gender Gap Report, and revealed that the impact of the pandemic has increased the gender parity gap by 36 years.

Based on the report’s current trajectory, women will have to wait another 135 years – up from 99 years in 2020 – to achieve overall parity with men.

The report gathered data from 156 countries and based the results on the gender gap in the areas of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

Despite levelling the playing field with men in education and health, the report found that women are not getting the same opportunities, they are facing economic hurdles, and there is a decline in political participation.

Iceland was found to be the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th time. The country has closed almost 90% of its gender parity gap.

Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden are among the top five countries with the greatest percentage gender gaps closed to date.

The Middle East and North Africa region continues to have the largest gender gap with 39%, while Sub-Saharan Africa is at 67%.

Here’s how South Africa fared in the Gender Gap Report

  • South Africa fell 1 ranking and is now 18th out of 156 economies compared to 17th in 2020. It has closed 78% of its gender gap.
  • The country has a relatively high presence of women among both ministers and parliamentarians and ranks 14th in political empowerment.
  • SA is 10th in the percentage of women in parliament and 12th in the percentage of women in ministerial positions. 45% of the country’s parliamentarians and 45% of its ministers are women.
  • In terms of economic participation and opportunity, South Africa is in the lower percentile, as it ranks 92nd.
  • For wage equality, the country ranks 131st.
  • South Africa ranks 1st in the percentage of professional and technical workers with 53.2% of those workers being female.
  • Health and survival, SA ranked 37th.
  • Educational attainment, 62th place.
  • South Africa ranked 107th in enrolment in primary education where only 87% of boys and 86% of girls attend primary school.

[email protected]

Share this article: