International Women’s Day 2018 #PressForProgress
Happy International Women’s Day to all of you who are doing it for the women. When you speak to any woman, they will all have their own story and many are relating to the recent #MeToo campaign or are about discrimination in the workplace. We are getting there, but progress is slow.
According to the UN, there is not one place in the world where women can claim to have all of the same rights and opportunities as men. In recent times, steps forward have been made to protect and promote women’s rights however, when we let that fact from the UN sink in, it’s clear to see that we still have a long way to go.
The Gender Equality Index 2017 states “As the life course of women often involves economic inactivity, part-time work, unpaid work, lower wages and an average of five years’ shorter working life than men, they face a significant risk of poverty in old age.” In the EU, 18% of women and 12% of men aged 75-plus are at risk of monetary poverty. It’s clear to see that gender inequality spans the whole of a woman’s lifetime.
So where does this inequality stem from? The report states:
“Segregation in educational choices leads to further gender divisions in the labour market and reinforces the undervaluation of work, skills and competencies traditionally attributed to women” and whilst gender equality in decision-making in political, economic and social areas is progressing, we continue to have the lowest score of all domains.
The area where the most advances are being made is in the corporate sector. The proportion of women on the boards of the largest listed companies in the EU has more than doubled in 10 years, from 10% in 2005 to 22% in 2015. Whilst this statistic looks impressive, women still only account for 7% of board chairs and presidents and 6% of chief executives.
To put this into perspective, in the FTSE 100 companies, there are currently 7 chief executives who are female and currently 9 chief executives called David.
In the annual report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the poor progress was mostly attributed to the gaping divide in unpaid work between the sexes. The report states that 57% of all work that UK women do is unpaid, compared to 32% for men. In addition to this, a report from law firm Pinsent Mason and the Fawcett Society (one of the UK’s largest charities promoting women’s rights) found that women are responsible for 74% of the time spent on childcare.
Perhaps as a result of this, women following a divorce have been found to have a 10% long-term dip in income, while divorced men’s income actually increases.
Women are also four times more likely to give up work to care and often take a break from their career in later life to care for ageing parents as well as the children.
So where do we go from here? Could we apply legal measures to address the shocking levels of discrimination against women who return to work after having a baby? Do secondary schools need to close the clear gender divide in education? Should the government provide free childcare?
This is not about women becoming men, but what is is about is tapping into everyone’s potential, regardless of gender, and recognising that we all have an equal part to play.
I’d welcome your comments, experiences and thoughts.