• International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March 2020.
  • This year’s campaign, #EachForEqual, draws attention to the difference individuals can make.
  • Western Europe currently has the highest gender parity rating at 76.7%.
  • Complete gender equality may not be achieved for another century.

"An equal world is an enabled world" - and every one of us can do our bit to bring about gender equality.

That’s the core message of #EachForEqual, the campaign at the centre of this year’s International Women’s Day. It seeks to draw attention to the idea that gender inequality isn’t a women’s issue, but an economic one – as gender equality is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

Business boardrooms, government departments and media coverage are just some of the key areas of focus highlighted by the campaign.

And by celebrating women’s achievement, raising awareness of bias and calling out inequality, the campaign says, we can all help to bring about change.

A symbol for change

The United Nations first celebrated International Women’s Day during International Women’s Year in 1975. By 1977, the UN and its member states proclaimed 8 March would be an official day for women’s rights and world peace. It’s now observed all over the world.

The #EachForEqual campaign has become a symbol of the movement, which extends far beyond 8 March, with activities running all year long. The idea is to reinforce and galvanize collective action, holding events and talks that urge us all to share responsibility and play our part.

The campaign highlights six key areas:

1. Championing women forging tech innovation

2. Applauding equality for women athletes

3. Forging inclusive workplaces so women thrive

4. Supporting women to earn on their own terms

5. Empowering women through health education

6. ​Increasing visibility for female creatives

Progress toward parity

As the campaign highlights, forging equality in these areas and more is crucial to a “healthier, wealthier and more harmonious” world.

Gender parity is highly regarded as a benchmark of progress, and has a direct bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive. According to the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, Western Europe has taken the largest strides toward parity, currently at 76.7%, closely followed by North America at 72.9%. South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are at the lower end of the scale, with parity sitting between 60.5% and 66.1%.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in ten countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Panama in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.

In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

However, these figures don’t factor in overall trends and timelines. For example, progress toward gender parity in North America stalled during 2019, while nations with lower parity made huge strides in the right direction.

Great leaps are also being made in individual sectors such as education, where it is forecast that gender parity will be fully attained within 12 years. In fact, full parity in this area has already been achieved in 40 of the 153 countries ranked in the report.

Social Mobility: Getting to 50-50 Gender Parity session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland women men female male girls boys teenagers teens development gender gap parity equality diversity progress change feminine masculine woman man sex biology roles dynamic balance bias androgynous international womens day un united nations
Nordic nations lead the world in gender parity.
Image: Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

Mind the 100-year gap

The Forum report also concludes that none of us are likely to see true gender parity in our lifetimes, with the next generation likely to face similar challenges. All told, it could take as long as 99.5 years to achieve global gender parity.

There’s still a long way to go, but ambitious campaigns such as International Women’s Day play a pivotal role in keeping the debate alive and the issues front and centre.

International Women’s Day takes place on Sunday 8 March 2020.