Closing gender gap benefits economy, society: OECDSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 18/12/2012 5:48 pm in World / no comments
PARIS, Dec. 17 — Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Monday urged governments and private sectors to do more to achieve greater gender equality and improve economic opportunities for women.
“Closing the gender gap must be a central part of any strategy to create more sustainable economies and inclusive societies,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said at the launch of a new report on gender equality at the OECD Gender Forum in Paris.
“The world’s population is ageing and this challenge can only be mastered if all the talent available is mobilized,” the head of the OECD said. She encouraged governments to “make further progress in the access and quality of education for all, improve tax and benefits systems, and make childcare more affordable, in order to help women contribute more to economic growth and a fairer society.”
According to the OECD, gender gaps are pervasive in all walks of economic life and imply large losses in terms of foregone productivity and living standards to the individuals concerned and the economy.
Despite worldwide progress in education, huge gender gaps remain in employment and entrepreneurship. Women continue to earn less than men and are less likely to make it to the top of the career ladder, but more likely to spend their final years in poverty, the Paris-based economic organization noted.
The data from the “Closing the Gender Gap” report indicated that in 34-member OECD countries “men earn on average 16 percent more than women in similar full-time jobs.”
The impact of pay inequality is dramatic over a woman’s lifetime, the OECD said. Involved less in formal employment but much more in unpaid work at home, many women will retire on lower pensions, and women over 65 are today more than one and a half times more likely to live in poverty than men in the same age bracket.
The proportion of women-owned businesses is around 30 percent in OECD countries. Self-employed women also earn 30 to 40 percent less than their male counterparts. “Improving women’s access to business financing is key,” the OECD proposed.
The OECD warned that “crisis-driven cuts in public sector employment, where women account for just under 60 percent of the total workforce, will worsen women’s position in the labor market in coming years. Governments must make sure that spending cuts do not reverse progress made in gender equality in employment.”
“Reducing persistent gender inequalities is imperative,” the OECD urged, not just because of “fairness and equity” but also out of economic necessity.
“We could gain 7 percent in economic growth in France with equal participation of women in work force,” said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s Minister of Women’s Rights, join by a number of ministers from OECD countries as well as representatives from businesses and trade unions in the debate at Monday’s Gender Forum.
“Greater participation in the labor market, more equal labor market outcomes and a more efficient use of women’s skills are needed to ensure continued economic growth,” the OECD advised.