Closing the gender gap, how close are we?

By Sivaja Nair (, Programme Executive, ICSF, Chennai, India


The 17th edition of the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, published by the World Economic Forum, states that gender parity, globally, has recovered to pre-COVID 19 levels, with regional and national differences. Iceland remains the most gender-equal country; the European region surpassed North America in terms of highest gender parity, and southern Asia has the widest gender gap in economic participation and opportunity. The report assessing the progress in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment outlines that closing the overall gender gap will require 131 years.

While significant strides have been made in recent times, the report highlights persistent gender disparities that hinder progress towards a more inclusive and equitable society. One key finding of the report is that progress in closing the gender gap has slowed, particularly in the economic sphere. Women’s representation in leadership roles and their participation in the workforce remain areas of concern. Despite some improvements in educational attainment, women continue to be underrepresented in high-skilled and high-paying sectors. This disparity not only limits women’s economic potential but also hampers overall economic growth

The report also underscores the importance of addressing gender gaps in political empowerment. While there has been an increase in the number of women in political positions, progress remains slow. Health and survival are areas where progress has been relatively stronger. However, the report highlights that gender disparities persist, particularly in regions where access to healthcare and resources is limited. Closing the gender gap in health requires addressing structural barriers and ensuring that woman have equal access to quality healthcare services.

To accelerate the progress, the report emphasizes the need for concerted efforts from governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals. It calls for implementing policies that promote gender equality, investing in girls’ education, and creating supportive work environments that enable women’s economic empowerment. Additionally, fostering women’s leadership and representation in decision-making processes is crucial for achieving sustainable changes.

Global Gender Gap Report 2023 serves as a powerful tool to raise awareness, track progress, and guide policy interventions. It highlights the urgent need for comprehensive and coordinated actions to address the underlying causes of gender inequality and create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

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