Published: 20 June 2023

Global Gender Gap Report 2023

The Global Gender Gap Index annually benchmarks the current state and evolution of gender parity across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment). It is the longest-standing index tracking the progress of numerous countries’ efforts towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

This year, the 17th edition of the Global Gender Gap Index benchmarks gender parity across 146 countries, providing a basis for robust cross-country analysis. Further, examining a subset of 102 countries that have been included in every edition of the index since 2006 provides a large constant sample for time-series analysis. The Global Gender Gap Index measures scores on a 0 to 100 scale and scores can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity (i.e. the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed). Cross-country comparisons support the identification of the most effective policies to close gender gaps.

Key findings include the index results in 2023, trend analysis of the trajectory towards parity and data deep dives through new metrics partnerships and contextual data.

Global results and time to parity

The global gender gap score in 2023 for all 146 countries included in this edition stands at 68.4% closed. Considering the constant sample of 145 countries covered in both the 2022 and 2023 editions, the overall score changed from 68.1% to 68.4%, an improvement of 0.3 percentage points compared to last year’s edition.

When considering the 102 countries covered continuously from 2006 to 2023, the gap is 68.6% closed in 2023, recovering to the level reported in the 2020 edition and advancing by a modest 4.1 percentage points since the first edition of the report in 2006. At the current rate of progress, it will take 131 years to reach full parity. While the global parity score has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the overall rate of change has slowed down significantly. Even reverting back to the time horizon of 100 years to parity projected in the 2020 edition would require a significant acceleration of progress.

- According to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Index no country has yet achieved full gender parity, although the top nine countries (Iceland, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia and Lithuania) have closed at least 80% of their gap. For the 14th year running, Iceland (91.2%) takes the top position. It also continues to be the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gender gap.

- The global top five is completed by three other Nordic countries – Norway (87.9%, 2nd), Finland (86.3%, 3rd) and Sweden (81.5%, 5th) – with one country from East Asia and the Pacific – New Zealand (85.6%, 4th) – ranked 4th. Additionally, from Europe, Germany (81.5%) moves up to 6th place (from 10th), Lithuania (80.0.%) returns to the top 10 economies, taking 9th place, and Belgium (79.6%) joins the top 10 for the first time in 10th place. One country from Latin America (Nicaragua, 81.1%) and one from Sub-Saharan Africa (Namibia, 80.2%) – complete this year’s top 10, taking the 7th and 8th positions, respectively. The two countries that drop out of the top 10 in 2023 are Ireland (79.5%,11th, down from 9th in 2022) and Rwanda (79.4%, 12th, down from 6th).

- For the 146 countries covered in the 2023 index, the Health and Survival gender gap has closed by 96%, the Educational Attainment gap by 95.2%, Economic Participation and Opportunity gap by 60.1%, and Political Empowerment gap by 22.1%.

- Based on the constant sample of 102 countries covered in all editions since 2006, there is an advancement from 95.3% to 96.1% on Educational Attainment between 2022 and 2023, moving beyond pre-pandemic levels, and an improvement from 95.7% to 95.9% for the Health and Survival dimension. The Political Empowerment score edges up from 22.4% to 22.5% and Economic Participation and Opportunity regresses from 60.0% in 2022 to 59.8% in 2023.

- At the current rate of progress over the 2006-2023 span, it will take 162 years to close the Political Empowerment gender gap, 169 years for the Economic Participation and Opportunity gender gap, and 16 years for the Educational Attainment gender gap. The time to close the Health and Survival gender gap remains undefined.

Regional results and time to parity

Gender parity in Europe (76.3%) surpasses the parity level in North America (75%) this year to rank first of eight geographic regions. Closely behind Europe and North America is Latin America and the Caribbean, with 74.3% parity. Trailing more than 5 percentage points behind Latin America and the Caribbean are Eurasia and Central Asia (69%) as well as East Asia and the Pacific (68.8%). Sub-Saharan Africa ranks 6th (68.2%), slightly below the global weighted average score (68.3%). Southern Asia (63.4%) overtakes the Middle East and North Africa (62.6%), which is, in 2023, the region furthest away from parity.

- Across all subindexes, Europe has the highest gender parity of all regions at 76.3%, with one-third of countries in the region ranking in the top 20 and 20 out of 36 countries with at least 75% parity. Iceland, Norway and Finland are the best-performing countries, both in the region and in the world, while Hungary, Czech Republic and Cyprus rank at the bottom of the region. Overall, there is a decline of 0.2 percentage points in the regional score based on the constant sample of countries. At the current rate of progress, Europe is projected to attain gender parity in 67 years.

- Just behind Europe, North America ranks second, having closed 75% of the gap, which is 1.9 percentage points lower than the previous edition. While Canada has registered a 0.2 percentage-point decline in the overall parity score since the last edition, the United States has seen a reduction of 2.1 percentage points. At the current rate of progress, 95 years will be needed to close the gender gap for the region.

- With incremental progress towards gender parity since 2017, Latin America and the Caribbean has bridged 74.3% of its overall gender gap, a 1.7 percentage-point increase in overall gender parity since last year. After Europe and North America, the region has the third-highest level of parity. Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Jamaica register the highest parity scores in this region and Belize, Paraguay and Guatemala the lowest. At the current rate of progress, Latin America and the Caribbean will take 53 years to attain full gender parity.

- At 69% parity, Eurasia and Central Asia ranks 4th out of the eight regions on the overall Gender Gap Index. Based on the aggregated scores of the constant sample of countries included since 2006, the parity score since the 2020 edition has stagnated, although there has been an improvement of 3.2 percentage points since 2006. Moldova, Belarus and Armenia are the highest-ranking countries in the region, while Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Türkiye rank the lowest. The difference in parity between the highest and the lowest ranked country is 14.9 percentage points. At the current rate of progress, it will take 167 years for the Eurasia and Central Asia region to reach gender parity.

- East Asia and the Pacific is at 68.8% parity, marking the fifth-highest score out of the eight regions. Progress towards parity has been stagnating for over a decade and the region registers a 0.2 percentage-point decline since the last edition. New Zealand, the Philippines and Australia have the highest parity at the regional level, with Australia and New Zealand also being the two most-improved economies in the region. On the other hand, Fiji, Myanmar and Japan are at the bottom of the list, with Fiji, Myanmar and Timor-Leste registering the largest declines. At the current rate of progress, it will take 189 years for the region to reach gender parity.

- Sub-Saharan Africa’s parity score is the sixth-highest among the eight regions at 68.2%, ranking above Southern Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. Progress in the region has been uneven. Namibia, Rwanda and South Africa, along with 13 other countries, have closed more than 70% of the overall gender gap. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Chad are the lowest-performing countries, with scores below 62%. Based on the constant sample, this marks a marginal improvement of 0.1 percentage points. At the current rate of progress, it will take 102 years to close the gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa.

- Southern Asia has achieved 63.4% gender parity, the second-lowest score of the eight regions. The score has risen by 1.1 percentage points since the last edition on the basis of the constant sample of countries covered since 2006, which can be partially attributed to the rise in scores of populous countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Along with Bhutan, these are the countries in Southern Asia that have seen an improvement of 0.5 percentage points or more in their scores since the last edition. Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are the best-performing countries in the region, while Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are at the bottom of both the regional and global ranking tables. At the current rate of progress, full parity in the region will be achieved in 149 years.

- In comparison to other regions, the Middle East and North Africa remains the furthest away from parity, with a 62.6% parity score. This is a 0.9 percentage-point decline in parity since the last edition for this region, based on the constant sample of countries covered since 2006. The United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain have achieved the highest parity in the region, while Morocco, Oman and Algeria rank the lowest. The region’s three most populous countries – Egypt, Algeria and Morocco – register declines in their parity scores since the last edition. At the current rate of progress, full regional parity will be attained in 152 years.

Evolving gender gaps in the global labour market

The state of gender parity in the labour market remains a major challenge. Not only has women’s participation in the labour market globally slipped in recent years, but other markers of economic opportunity have been showing substantive disparities between women and men. While women have (re-)entered the labour force at higher rates than men globally, leading to a small recovery in gender parity in the labour-force participation rate since the 2022 edition, gaps remain wide overall and are apparent in several specific dimensions.

- Evolving gender gaps in the global labour market: Women have been (re-)entering the workforce at a slightly higher rate than men, resulting in a modest recovery from last year’s low. Between the 2022 and 2023 edition, parity in the labour-force participation rate increased from 63% to 64%. However, the recovery in women’s labour-force participation remains unfinished, as parity is still at the second-lowest point since the first edition of the index in 2006 and significantly below its 2009 peak of 69%. Compounding these patterns, women continue to face higher unemployment rates than men, with a global unemployment rate at around 4.5% for women and 4.3% for men. Even when women secure employment, they often face substandard working conditions: a significant portion of the recovery in employment since 2020 can be attributed to informal employment, whereby out of every five jobs created for women, four are within the informal economy; for men, the ratio is two out of every three jobs.

- Workforce representation across industries: Global data provided by LinkedIn shows persistent skewing in women’s representation in the workforce and leadership across industries. In LinkedIn’s sample, which covers 163 countries, women account for 41.9% of the workforce in 2023, yet the share of women in senior leadership positions (Director, Vice-President (VP) or C-Suite) is at 32.2% in 2023, nearly 10 percentage points lower. Women’s representation drops to 25% in C-Suite positions on average, which is just more than half of the representation in entry-level positions, at 46%. Different industries display different intensities and patterns when it comes to this “drop to the top”. Women fare relatively better in industries such as Consumer Services, Retail, and Education, which register ratios of C-suite vs entry level representation between 64% and 68%. Construction, Financial Services, and Real Estate present the toughest conditions for aspiring female leaders, with a ratio of C-Suite to entry-level representation of less than 50%. For the past eight years, the proportion of women hired into leadership positions has been steadily increasing by about 1% per year globally. However, this trend shows a clear reversal starting in 2022, which brings the 2023 rate back to 2021 levels.

- Gender gaps in the labour markets of the future: Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations are an important set of jobs that are well remunerated and expected to grow in significance and scope in the future. Linkedin data on members’ job profiles show that women remain significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Women make up almost half (49.3%) of total employment across non-STEM occupations, but just 29.2% of all STEM workers. While the percentage of female STEM graduates entering into STEM employment is increasing with every cohort, the numbers on the integration of STEM university graduates into the labour market show that the retention of women in STEM even one year after graduating sees a significant drop. Women currently account for 29.4% of entry-level workers; yet for high-level leadership roles such as VP and C-suite, representation drops to 17.8% and 12.4%, respectively. When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) specifically, talent availability overall has surged, increasing six times between 2016 and 2022, yet female representation in AI is progressing very slowly. The percentage of women working in AI today is approximately 30%, roughly 4 percentage points higher than it was in 2016.

- Gender gaps in the skills of the future: Online learning offers flexibility, accessibility and customization, enabling learners to acquire knowledge in a manner that suits their specific needs and circumstances. However, women and men currently do not have equal opportunties and access to these online platforms, given the persistent digital divide. Even when they do use these platforms, there are gender gaps in skilling, especially those skills that are projected to grow in importance and demand. Data from Coursera suggests that as of 2022, except for teaching and mentoring courses, there is disparity in enrolment in every skill category. For enrolment in technology skills such as technological literacy (43.7% parity) and AI and big data (33.7%), which are among the top 10 skills projected to grow, there is less than 50% parity and progress has been sluggish. Across all skill categories, the gender gaps tend to widen as proficiency levels increase. However, when women do enrol, they tend to attain most proficiency levels across skill categories studied in less time compared to men.

- Gender gaps in political leadership: Much like in the case of representation of women in business leadership, gender gaps in political leadership continue to persist. Although there has been an increase in the number of women holding political decision-making posts worldwide, achieving gender parity remains a distant goal and regional disparities are significant. As of 31 December 2022, approximately 27.9% of the global population, equivalent to 2.12 billion people, live in countries with a female head of state. While this indicator experienced stagnation between 2013 and 2021, 2022 witnessed a significant increase. Another recent positive trend is observed for the share of women in parliaments. In 2013, only 18.7% of parliament members globally were women among the 76 countries with consistent data. By 2022, this number had risen steadily to 22.9%. Significant strides have also been made in terms of women’s representation in local government globally. Out of the 117 countries with available data since 2017, 18 countries, including Bolivia (50.4%), India (44.4%) and France (42.3%), have achieved representation of women of over 40% in local governance.

- DEI programmes to close gender gaps: In the private sector, the scope of gender parity action by pioneering firms has begun to broaden from a focus on the workforce to whole-of-business approaches encompassing inclusive design, inclusive supply chains and community impact. The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Survey suggests that more than two-thirds of the organizations surveyed have implemented a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programme. The majority (79%) of companies surveyed are implementing DEI programmes with a focus on women.

Increasing women’s economic participation and achieving gender parity in leadership, in both business and government, are two key levers for addressing broader gender gaps in households, societies and economies. Collective, coordinated and bold action by private- and public- sector leaders will be instrumental in accelerating progress towards gender parity and igniting renewed growth and greater resilience. Recent years have seen major setbacks and the state of gender parity still varies widely by company, industry and economy. Yet, a growing number of actors have recognized the importance and urgency of taking action, and evidence on effective gender parity initiatives is solidifying. We hope the data and analysis provided in this report can further accelerate the speed of travel towards parity by catalysing and informing action by public- and private-sector leaders in their efforts to close the global gender gap.

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