• The global gender gap is not expected to close for another 136 years.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has increased this time from 100 years, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report.

Based on 2020 trends, the global gender gap was not expected to be closed for another 100 years. Already a mammoth prospect, but according to the latest WEF estimates for 2021, the world is now going backwards on this long road to gender equality. The time required is now forecast at 136 years. The main reason for this? Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director and Head of the WEF's Centre for the New Economy and Society writes: "The Covid-19 pandemic has raised new barriers to building inclusive and prosperous economies and societies. Pre-existing gender gaps have amplified the crisis asymmetrically between men and women, even as women have been at the frontlines of managing the crisis as essential workers."

When looking at particular aspects of the gap, the biggest factor in the current disparity becomes clear. According to the World Economic Forum it will take 268 years to close the economic gender gap - a disparity which was already increasing last year due to: "Lack of progress in closing the Economic Participation and Opportunity gap". On the more positive side, at the current rate, the educational gap looks set to be almost completely diminished within 14 years. Though this too has increased by two years since the last estimate was made.

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 Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank.



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.

a graph showing the time needed to close global gender gaps in years
Evidence suggests the pandemic has increased the time needed to close the gender gap.
Image: Statista