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It will take 257 years for gender gap to close, more women are still far behind men—Report

DESPITE mounting global campaigns for more participation of women in politics and economic activities, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) says gender gap will take 257 years to close.

The World Economic Forum in its latest report, ‘Global Gender Gap’ has shown a huge gap in gender equality especially in women participation in politics.

The WEF  report benchmark 153 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment.

“The index’s rankings offer an effective means to benchmark progress. They are designed to create global awareness of the challenges that gender gaps pose, as well as the opportunities that emerge when action is taken to reduce them,” WEF noted in the report released to coincide with the 2020 celebration of the International Day of Women (IWD).

Although the report highlighted that educational attainment, as well as health and survival, enjoy much closer to parity (96.1 percent and 95.7 percent respectively), but economic participation and opportunity by women remains a concern.

“This is the only dimension where progress has regressed. Here, the figures are sobering, with a deteriorating situation forcing gender parity to a lowly 57.8 percent, which in time represents a massive 257 years before gender parity can be achieved,” the report said.

According to WEF, the primary reasons for this disparity is that “women have greater representation in roles that are being automated noting that not enough women are entering professions where wage growth is the most pronounced (most obviously, but not exclusively, technology), and women face the perennial problem of insufficient care infrastructure and access to capital.”

The report noted that as compared to 202 years in 2019, gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years and no one will see gender parity in one’s time.

“None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. That’s the sobering finding of the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which reveals that gender parity will not be attained for 99.5 years,” WEF said.

The report posited that gender parity has a fundamental bearing on whether or not economies and societies thrive.

It lamented that despite a rise in women representation in politics globally, there has been little or no improvement as their male counterparts still occupy the majority of the available political positions.

“Overall, the quest towards gender parity has improved, ducking back under a century and registering a marked improvement on the 108 years in the 2018 index. Greater political representation for women has contributed to this, but overall the political arena remains the worst-performing dimension.

“At the other end of the scale, it is forecast to take just 12 years to attain gender parity in education, and in fact, overall, gender parity has been fully achieved in 40 of the 153 countries ranked.

“Drilling down into the facts and figures, it will take 95 years to close the gender gap in political representation, with women in 2019 holding 25.2 percent of parliamentary (lower-house) seats and 21.2 percent of ministerial positions.

“Positively, the so-called “role model effect” may be reaping dividends in terms of leadership and wages. Improving political empowerment for women has, as a general rule, corresponded with increased numbers of women in senior roles in the labour market,” the report stated.

The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday had called for more inclusion of women in politics and economic activities during its plenary session on the heels of the 2020 International Women Day (IWD) commemoration with the theme: #EachforEqual, which advocates for collective individualism of both genders for a better society.

The motion, raised by Betty Apiafi, senator representing Rivers West Senatorial District was supported by the lawmakers who agreed that an inclusive society where both genders are duly represented would spur a healthier society.

The Senate noted that women played a great role in the society because they are the reasons for human existence and constitute a greater percentage of voters during the election hence should be recognized for the resilience they bring to the table.

However, Senate President Ahmed Lawal on Tuesday had said there was a need for a constitutional review to ensure women in Nigeria are given better opportunities to occupy desired positions in the society.

“I urge all concerned with the amendment of Nigerian Constitution to ensure gender parity,” he said.

He urged all registered political parties to initiate policies that accord women equal opportunities in all elective and appointive positions.

Lawal further enjoined employers of labour and corporate organisations to give women equal opportunities to allow them to achieve their true potentials as well as ensure parity in top management positions and the boardroom.

Nigerian situation with women

The need for more inclusive representation of women in various sectors of the society has continued to gain momentum, especially in this jet age.

However, Nigerian women are yet to occupy 10 per cent of the country’s upper legislative arm of the government since the return of democracy in 1999.

The maximum is 6.4 per cent since  1999, and 15 per cent of elective positions in a country where the voting population of both men and women are almost equal.

In 1999, out of the 106 senators, only three were females (2.8 per cent women). There were four, nine and seven females senators in the fifth, sixth, and seventh National Assembly respectively.

Similarly, in 2015 (the eighth national assembly), only seven women out of 102 were elected into the red chamber, representing 6.4 per cent, compared to men who constituted the 93.6 per cent of the total number of the senators.

Presently, eight female senators constitute part of 109 lawmakers of the senate and the highest number of seats ever occupied by women in the House of representatives since 1999 is 27, representing a meagre 6.9% of the 360 seats.

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