Women’s job market participation stagnating at less than 50% for the past 25 years
Less than 50% of working-age women are in the labour market, a figure that has barely changed over the last quarter of a century, according to a new UN DESA report launched on 20 October. Unpaid domestic and care work falls disproportionately on women, restraining their economic potential as the COVID-19 pandemic additionally affects women’s jobs and livelihoods, the report warns.
The World’s Women 2020: Trends and Statistics compiles 100 data stories that provide a snapshot of the state of gender equality worldwide. The report analyses gender equality in six critical areas: population and families; health; education; economic empowerment and asset ownership; power and decision-making; and violence against women and the girl child as well as the impact of COVID-19.
“Twenty-five years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, progress towards equal power and equal rights for women remains elusive. No country has achieved gender equality, and the COVID-19 crisis threatens to erode the limited gains that have been made,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to recover better from the pandemic offer a chance to transform the lives of women and girls, today and tomorrow.”
While unpaid domestic and care work has intensified for both men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic, women continue to do the lion’s share. In terms of power and decision making, women held only 28% of managerial positions globally in 2019 – almost the same proportion as in 1995.
The world has made substantial progress in achieving universal primary education, with girls and boys participating equally in primary education in most regions. In tertiary education, women outnumber men, and enrolment is increasing faster for women than for men.
During COVID-19 lockdowns, many women and girls have been in unsafe environments where they are at heightened risk of experiencing intimate partner violence. Around one-third of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner; and 18% have experienced such violence in the past 12 months. In the most extreme cases, violence is lethal. Globally, an estimated 137 women are killed by their intimate partner or a family member every day.
Reliable, timely and disaggregated data are critically needed to effectively measure progress in achieving gender equality.
“I call on all countries to accelerate efforts towards the empowerment of women and girls and towards improving the evidence base to monitor progress: data gaps in the coverage of key gender topics need to be filled,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “Timeliness and comparability of data over time and across countries need to be improved, and data disaggregation and dissemination by age, sex, location and other key variables need to become a priority in order to fully measure and address intersecting inequalities, respond to crises, and ensure gender equality by 2030.”
Access all data on this interactive panel here.