Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg

Women Will Have to Wait Another 170 Years to Close Gender Gap

Economic gap between men and women rises to highest since 2008
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Women are going to get pay equality – they’ll just have to wait for another 170 years. 

That’s according to an estimate by the World Economic Forum assessing gender gaps when it comes to economic opportunities, political empowerment, education and health between men and women.

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While international figures from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May have placed greater focus on women in leadership roles, the outlook for the average female worker remains grim. In fact, it has deteriorated. In the past 12 months, the target for when men and women would get equal pay moved 52 years into the future – to 2186.

The economic divergence, which measures the participation rate in the workforce, job opportunities and pay, has widened to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the WEF, reversing a trend of progress and highlighting the challenges for female workers.

QuickTake Women on Boards

Income disparity is a persistent problem, the report showed, noting that average female salaries are almost half of those of men – $10,778 a year compared to $19,873. The participation rate for female workers is also lower, and education gains don't necessarily translate into economic gains.

Out of the 144 countries covered by the index, those in the Nordic region – in particular Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden – fared best in the assessment of improvements in education, economic opportunities, health and political empowerment, while the U.S. ranked 45th. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen were at the bottom of the league. 

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