It is now widely accepted that gender parity in education and employment is critical for economic growth and societal cohesion. Pre-COVID-19 crisis the World Economic Forum predicted that at current rates of progress it will take 257 years to close the economic gender gap. Now initial evidence is showing that the socio-economic implications of COVID19 are impacting women disproportionately. Taking a gender lens in the immediate crisis response and recovery policies will be critical to advance economic gender parity.
The reality remains that many countries are well-placed to maximize women’s economic potential, however the COVID-19 pandemic will make it even harder to reap the returns from their investment in female education.
Drawing on the insights that we have developed from measuring gender gaps in countries since 2006 through the annual Global Gender Gap Report, the Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society has identified four key focus areas to accelerate the closing of the economic gender gap in times of COVID-19:
- Hardwire gender parity in the post COVID-19 world of work: reskilling women to be ready for re-employment in high growth sectors
- Close gender gaps in remuneration between and within sectors: enhancing work quality and pay standards across currently low paid essential work
- Enable women's participation in the labour force: enhancing social safety nets, specifically on provision of childcare support
- Advance more women into management and leadership positions: setting targets for women in leadership on a government and business level
The Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators aim to create global and national public-private collaboration platforms to address current gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future. The accelerator model drives systems change, highlighting the need for collaborative action across different scales – not just institutional structures and policies but also norms, attitudes and through individual business commitments.
To catalyse closing the economic gender gap, Accelerators focus on:
National Level Action: The accelerator model brings together public and private sector leaders, generally Ministers and CEO's, to generate local insight, develop local needs-based action plans and drive their execution.
Global Learning Network: Each country accelerator along with knowledge countries are part of a global platform, to enable the acceleration of learning through the exchange of insights and experience.
Closing the Gender Gap Playbook: The Playbook looks to provide a guide for stakeholders with tools, resources and processes for action to achieve economic gender parity. It is a living document which is continuously updated with the learnings from the Global Accelerator Network and the work done by the rest of the Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society.
The Closing the Gender Accelerators also call for quantifiable commitments from leading companies to increase workforce opportunities and accelerate gender parity in the future of work. In addition, we are asking global industry leaders to commit to this framework from a global perspective.
Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators are currently established in nine countries and the goal is to expand the model to build a global network of 15 countries accelerating gender parity by the end of 2020.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, 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. France has also become the first G20 country to launch a Gender Gap Accelerator, signalling that developed economies are also playing an important role in spearheading this approach to closing the gender gap.