Ensuring women’s equal participation in the global economy and taking measures to close the gender gap could “exponentially” increase the world’s GDP by up to USD 28 trillion by 2025, a top Indian-origin UN official has said. UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri, while addressing a press conference here yesterday on the eve of International Women’s Day, cited a study by consulting firm McKinsey and UN Women to stress that women’s equal participation would exponentially increase the GDP of countries at the least by USD 12 trillion and at the most by USD 28 trillion by 2025.
She, however, lamented that the progress in the area is “uneven and slow” and it would require another 170 years to close the pay gap and achieve gender parity, according to the latest World Economic Forum gender gap report.
“We clearly need to make a giant leap towards closing these gaps, whether it is the equal pay gap, which is 23 per cent at the least and even bigger in some countries and sectors,” Puri said.
Emphasising on the income gap that exists, Puri said women have 1/10th of the global income while they do 2/3rd of the total work in terms of the hours they spend.
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She said that women spend 2.5 times more hours on unpaid care and domestic work than men on a global average, which prevents them from taking time out for activities like education, employment, sports, leisure and engagement in community and political leadership.
In his message for the International Women’s Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said leadership positions are predominantly held by men, and “outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism” are widening the economic gender gap.
“Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices,” the UN chief said.
He underscored that denying women and girls their rights “is not only wrong in itself; it has serious social and economic impacts that hold us all back.”
In messages for the day and events around the world, senior UN officials reflected on the significant impact of women’s participation and contribution to the global economy, and international goal of reaching 50-50 equality in employment around the world by 2030.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka decried the lack of opportunities for women and girls, saying “too many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities.”
She called for construing a different world of work for women.
“As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture and science,” she said.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said this change needs to start at home and in the first days of school, and include adjustments in parenting, curricula, educational settings and cultural stereotypes propagated in entertainment and advertising.
She said women and girls must be ready to be part of a digital revolution and study science, technology and math if they are to compete successfully for high-paying new jobs.