It's not great news for women in employment this week with the potential changes to the Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme on the horizon, and now it has been reported by the World Economic Forum that it will take 170 years for women to get pay equality. Not only is that a pretty scary number, but this has increased from 118 years as the estimate just 12 months ago.
According to the World Economic Forum:
"The report is an annual benchmarking exercise that measures progress towards parity between men and women in four areas: Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Economic Opportunity and Political Empowerment. In this latest edition, the report finds that progress towards parity in the key economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap – which stands at 59% – now larger than at any point since 2008."
Australia is not faring too well on this list. We are in 46th place, significantly lagging on other parts of the world including most of Europe and New Zealand. Last year Australia was in 36th place, and we have actually declined significantly over the last ten years.
So why does this matter?
As I said in my blog post on Equal Pay Day, apart from the obvious fairness and equity argument, there is an economic one.
The female participation in the workplace in Australia is 65.2% compared to the male rate of 79.2%. If women were paid equally, and we know that part of the answer to this is around caring responsibilities, then we can increase the participation rate in Australia which means more workers, and therefore more taxes being paid, while less benefits ("Government handouts") are paid from those taxes.
This can only be a good thing for our country as more workers mean a higher GDP and a lower tax burden on our citizens.
There was some good news from this report, and that is that the gap between men and women in terms of education - literacy and school enrolment - is so small that they could be at equal levels within the next 10 years.
We know that old adage of "what gets measured, gets managed", so let's hope that the work being done by the WEF will help make a difference to closing the gender gaps around the world.
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