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World now 217 years away from equal pay

November 2, 2017

The World Economic Forum has said that it will take 217 years until women have equal pay and representation in the workplace. It's the second year that the organization has recorded worsening economic inequality.

Plastic models of a man and woman standing on a pile of coins and bank notes
Image: Joe Giddens/PA/picture-alliance

The global pay gap between men and women has widened to its largest figure in nearly a decade, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) study published on Thursday.

The Swiss nonprofit's annual "Global Gender Gap Report" said it will now take 217 years before women have equal representation in the workplace and earn as much as men.

Last year, WEF said that economic equality would be achieved in 170 years, while in 2015 they said it would take 118 years.

"In 2017 we should not be seeing progress toward gender parity shift into reverse," said Saadia Zahidi, WEF's head of Gender Parity and Human Capital.

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"Gender equality is both a moral and economic imperative. Some countries understand this and they are now seeing dividends from the proactive measures they have taken to address their gender gaps," Zahidi said.

The WEF report examines four areas: economic participation (including participation in the workforce, wages and job advancement), educational access, political participation and health (such as life expectancy).

The report notes that no country has closed the pay gap, with economic inequalities proving to be some of the most difficult stumbling blocks to equality.

Women fared better in education globally, where equality could be achieved within 13 years. The WEF said that despite low figures in political participation, slow and steady progress in the area means that the gap could be closed in 99 years.

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Iceland leads the pack

With 88 percent of its gender gap closed, Iceland topped the list for the ninth year in a row, followed by Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden.

Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Chad and Iran ranked the lowest out of the 144 nations measured in the WEF index.

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"Gender parity is also fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive," the report said.

WEF estimated that closing the pay gap could add an extra $310 billion (€265 billion) to Germany's GDP (ranked No. 12 on the list).

The United States (ranked No. 49 on the list) would add $1.75 trillion to its GDP while China (ranked 100) would stand to gain $2.5 trillion.

rs/rt (dpa, Reuters)