Belgium maintains 10th place for women’s economic empowerment
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Belgium maintains 10th place for women’s economic empowerment

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Belgium maintains its tenth place in the ‘Women in Work Index’ ranking on women’s economic empowerment in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

However, Belgium’s performance is still hampered by a relatively low female participation rate in the labour market (64.9%), the consultancy firm PwC, which compiles the index every year, said Thursday.

To draw up its ranking, PwC takes into account five indicators, namely the parity of male and female salaries, the proportion of women active on the labour market (in absolute terms and in relation to men), the female unemployment rate and the percentage of women working full-time.

On the basis of these five criteria, Belgium maintains its tenth place in the ranking for the year 2019, dominated by Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand.

Although Belgium is historically the third country to have made the most progress (moving from 20th place in 2000 to 10th in 2019), little progress has been made in 2019, PwC said Thursday in a statement.

“Barely 64.9% of women in Belgium are active on the Belgian labour market (compared to 73% of men) and only 72% of them work full-time, compared to OECD averages of 70% and 76% respectively,” the consultancy firm said.

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By way of comparison, Iceland has a female labour market participation rate of 84.4% (compared to 89% of men), making it the country with the highest proportion of women active in the labour market.

In contrast, the gender pay gap in Belgium (defined as the median wage difference between men and women) has narrowed from 5.8% in 2018 to 4.8% in 2019, placing the country third among OECD countries, while the average is still 15%.

Women’s representation on boards of directors has also improved in our country, from 31.1% in 2018 to 36.7% in 2019, a result that propels Belgium to 7th place in the ranking in terms of women’s representation on boards of directors.

“It is positive to see that Belgium stands out in terms of the gender pay gap and female representation on boards of directors,” commented Griet Helsen, Partner at PwC Belgium.

“However, in the context of an ageing population putting downward pressure on the labour market, it is crucial to focus on increasing women’s participation in the labour market.”

“In this respect, it is essential that they have the right technical skills to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the fourth industrial revolution,” she says.

The Brussels Times