As much progress has been made in recent decades, gender equality often still seems like a distant dream. Female leaders remain the exception, the gender wage gap is still a huge problem, and reproductive rights are constantly being challenged across the globe. And according to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, we still have a depressingly long way to go before men and women are truly equal.
The report, published on December 17th, notes that if current trends hold, the global gender gap will close 108 years from now (in 2126). However, the economic gap, which measures labor force participation and the wage gap between men and women, will take an even more discouraging 202 years to close—the longest amount of time for any aspect of the gender gap. Overall, not much progress has been made since 2017.
Things look even more bleak for North America specifically. While Western Europe will achieve gender parity in just 61 years, North America isn’t expected to reach the same levels of equality for 165 years. The only region with a longer timeline to equality is East Asia and the Pacific, where the gender gap will close in 171 years if trends continue. As the report’s authors pointed out, lawmakers have the power to “fast-forward this process and should take stronger actions in the years to come.”
The report found that the most equal country was Iceland, which has closed 85% of the gap between men and women. Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Nicaragua rounded out the top five. Meanwhile, the U.S. ranked 51st out of 149 countries.
And even though some countries are better than others, Anna Karin-Jatfors, regional director for U.N. Women, told The Daily Beast that “we don’t have any country that’s achieved gender equality.”
The bottom line is we need lawmakers to step up so we can see change during our lifetime. Two hundred years is simply unacceptable.