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International Women’s Day: Steps Being Taken to Press for Gender Equality Globally

Published Wednesday, February 28, 2018

This House of Lords Library Briefing has been produced for the debate taking place in the House of Lords on 8 March 2018, to mark International Women’s Day, on “the steps being taken to press for progress on gender equality globally”. It provides an overview of the global situation regarding gender equality, the UK’s position, and actions taken by the UK Government to promote gender equality overseas and domestically.

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Gender disparities continue to exist globally, including in the UK. A World Economic Forum analysis of the global gender gap, taking into account economic participation, education, health and political participation, found that weighted by population, the average progress on closing the global gender gap stood at 68 percent in 2017. The UK had a gender gap of 33 percent, and was ranked 15th out of 144 countries for overall gender parity. The top three countries were Iceland, Norway and Finland, and the USA was ranked 49th. 

In the UK in 2017, 71 percent of women aged 16–64 were in work compared to 80 percent of men, and women were significantly more likely to be in part-time employment. The gap between the average hourly pay for women and average hourly pay for men was 18.4 percent in favour of men. 

A UN report highlighted that one in four women aged 20 to 24 were married before age 18 in 2015; in 30 countries where the practice of female genital mutilation is concentrated 35 per cent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 had been subjected to the procedure; and on average, women spent almost triple the amount of time on unpaid domestic and care work as men.

The UK has adopted the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include the goal of achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. In order to accomplish this the Government is implementing policies in developing countries, including initiatives to increase education opportunities for girls, improve women’s economic participation, and prevent violence against women and girls. 

In the UK, the 2015 Conservative Government brought in legislation to require certain organisations to publish information on their gender pay gap. Policy recommendations to close the gender pay gap by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee and the consultancy PwC include measures to encourage more fathers to take parental leave, more availability of flexible working, and more affordable childcare.

Lords Library notes LLN-2018-0027

Author: Emily Haves

Topics: Fuel poverty, International development, Sex discrimination, Students

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