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    OECD countries: negligible progress in gender equality

    © Belga
    Angel Gurría, the General Secretary of the OECD, does not see the equality gap narrowing having a major impact on countries’ GDP.
    © Belga

    Gender inequalities persist in all OECD countries, as much in all spheres of social, as economic, life. This is stressed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its report presented on Wednesday. The report is entitled “The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle.” There has been scant progress over the last five years, although female activity rates within OECD economies have come closer to those of men.

    The OECD stresses that gender equality is not just a fundamental human right, but is also the cornerstone of a prosperous and modern economy.

    However, although young women generally remain studying for longer than men in member countries, they are far less likely to do so in the lucrative spheres of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (known as “STIM” in Belgium). The report indicates that were they to do so, they would have well paid jobs. In reality, women are more often faced with part-time roles and discrimination, and their chances of obtaining management positions are lower. 

    On average, the full-time median employee, in the OECD area, earns nearly 15% less than her male counterpart. Angel Gurría, the General Secretary of the organisation, adds, “The 25% reduction by 2025 of the gender activity rate gap could, when subject to an increase in the active population, add only one percentage point to the anticipated GDP growth in the OECD countries overall. This is projected for between the period 2013 to 2025.”

    The report also mentions some progress within the OECD zone. Examples include high financial incentives for fathers when they take at least two months’ parental leave, and the implementation of equal pay measures in around two-thirds of member countries since 2013. The fight against violence inflicted upon women is a priority issue in the majority of countries.

    The study also flags up the progress which has been made in Belgium. The country is amongst those member countries leading publicity campaigns against sexual harassment. It is also applying compulsory quotas concerning the representation of women on the boards of limited companies and/or state owned companies.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times