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Global gender parity is still far from being achieved, with projections showing that it will take more than five generations for women to catch up with men in the economy and politics, according to findings by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and other equality experts. The WEF’s Global Gender Gap report highlights that it will take 132 years to reach global gender equality, compared to a projected 136 years in 2021. The report takes into consideration gender disparity in economic opportunities, education, political empowerment, health, and safety. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit women harder than men, with women losing around $800 billion in income globally due to pandemic-related job losses and pay cuts.

Gender Disparities in Economic Opportunities, Education, Political Empowerment, Health and Safety

The analyses of the data in the WEF’s Global Gender Gap report takes into consideration gender disparity in economic opportunities, education, political empowerment, health, and safety. According to the report, the gender pay gap is still significant across the globe, and women are also facing disproportionately higher costs for some products than men. In the United States, personal care products are 13% more expensive for women while in Britain, prices for formal shoes have increased 75% compared to those for men, BofA data showed.

Women are also at a disadvantage in the job market, with many employed in informal sectors that have seen sharp pay cuts since COVID-19, and increased time spent on childcare during lockdowns. Rising childcare costs outpacing income growth “is a significant barrier preventing women from getting into, remaining, and progressing in the labor force,” said Dimple Gosai, head of U.S. environmental, social, and governance (ESG) at BofA.

Financial Health of Women

Women are at greater risk of real wage losses than men, given income and family responsibility disparities coupled with a higher cost of living. A recent index on women’s financial health compiled by investment services firm Ellevest shows that women in the United States are in their worst financial shape since 2018.

Corporate Diversity and Governance

Several investors and regulators are pushing for corporate diversity. Top investors like Schroeder and Amundi have pledged to include investment picks based on how companies rank in terms of gender diversity. Data from BofA shows that U.S. companies with greater gender diversity have offered a median 20% higher return on equity since 2005 than those who lack it.

In Europe, where European Union and UK regulators have set a 40% board quota for women, almost 80% of large companies had at least one-third of their board seats held by women, BofA showed. Studies show that there are “significant correlations” between the presence of women on corporate boards and strong financial performance, MSCI and BofA said.

However, more women on boards doesn’t mean more women in executive roles. Globally, gender inequality in boardrooms will not be eliminated until 2038, data modeled by provider MSCI showed. For senior executive roles, gender parity still looks out of reach.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender disparities across the globe. Women in developing countries are the most vulnerable, but there are still large pay differences everywhere, even in the world’s richest economy. Women and minorities have lower representation in “high-paying” U.S. industries and jobs that are less affected by inflation pressures, such as technology or finance, BofA said. Social unrest in Iran and the war in Ukraine – which exacerbated inflation as commodity prices soared – kept many girls and women out of school and work, it added.

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