Belgium has been named the tenth best country in the world for the economic emancipation of women, according to the ‘Women in Work Index’ study carried out by the consultancy office PwC and published on Wednesday.
Belgium’s performance (12th a year ago) is still being held back by the relatively weak participation rate of women in the jobs market (64.3%).
The study takes a look each year at the advances in terms of the economic emancipation of women in the countries forming the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD). It collates several key indicators: equal pay for men and women, the proportion of women active in the jobs market (in absolute terms and in relation to men), the unemployment rate among women and the percentage of women in full-time work.
Iceland and Sweden come top of the list for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Slovenia.
Since the new millennium, Belgium has risen from 20th to 10th place, one of the biggest leaps recorded by an OECD country.
For PwC, the tenth position reflects the numerous efforts made in support of the increase (by 31.1%) in the representation of women in boardrooms and of the reduction to 5.2% of the wages gap between men and women. The country is one of the best learners in this respect, with women earning on average 15% less than their male counterparts in the 33 other OECD countries surveyed in the study.
One of the main impediments to progress in Belgium is, on the other hand, the participation of women in the jobs market. Belgium comes 27th, with only 64.3% of women currently actively employed there. “In the context of an ageing population, which puts downward pressure on the labour supply, it is particularly noteworthy that our country is at the bottom of the ranking,” PwC states.
For the OECD as a whole, the potential long-term economic gains resulting from an increase in the employment rate among women represent a growth in the GDP of more than €5,500 billion. If Belgium goes from a rate of 64.3% to one of 81.2%, as in Sweden, that would lead to an increase in GDP of nearly 13% or €65 billion.