Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Global Gender Gap Report 2014 – Has life for women in the UK gotten worse?

This year’s ‘Global Gender Report’ which was published last week, has hit the headlines in the media for all types of reasons. The ninth edition of the report which was published last week ‘benchmarks national gender gaps of 142 countries on economic, political, education- and health based criteria’.

The main question that is being asked of women living in the UK, is, has life gotten worse for us? 

Seeing our status drop from being 18th out of 142 countries in 2013, to 26th this year. Even more shockingly, was the fact that we ranked at 9th place in 2006. What has happened in the last 9 years for women’s well being socially and economically in the United Kingdom to have supposedly gone backwards?

So which country tops 2014’s ‘Global Gender Report’? This year, and for the past six years it has been Iceland, with Finland ranking in second position, and Norway holding the third place. Sweden remains in fourth position and Denmark climbed three placed to rank at the fifth position. These 5 Scandinavian countries which dominate the top 10 are a force to be reckoned with in terms of gender equality. What can we learn from them? And why aren't we doing it already?

A combination of factors including a shared participation in childcare, better work-life balance for both men and women, and mandatory paternal leave, all contribute to a higher female labour force participation and a closing salary gap between men and women, as well as more opportunities for women to rise to positions to leadership.

The Women’s Organisation is one which firmly believes in flexibility for women working, an attitude which supports and encourages women in business. Without these attitudes becoming common place in the workforce, women in the United Kingdom can still feel pressure to juggle a number of commitments including work and family life and remain in jobs without flexibility and support for themselves and their families.

Compared to countries like Sweden, Norway and Iceland which provide many services for childcare, which are either free, or heavily subsidised, and enable families to utilise them in terms of their career. The United Kingdom continues to struggle in terms the way it structures childcare and paternity leave.

Reports such as the World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Gender Report’, highlights many issues which countries struggle with in terms of gender equality, and although this year, the United Kingdom has been named and shamed in the media as dropping down the rankings, it’s important for countries that ranked highly not to sit back and believe that total equality has been achieved, and countries who have ranked lower to point fingers and blame a particular area or sector.

The fight for equality is a long one, and the United Kingdom should take inspiration from Iceland, and continue to close the gender gap. Hopefully before 2095, as some reports suggested…

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