April 10 marks Equal Pay Day 2018, and women are still fighting the same battle they've been fighting for years.
In 2016, women who worked full time in the United States were typically paid just 80 percent of what men were paid — that's a pay gap of 20 percent. While the gap has gotten smaller since the 1970s as more women seek higher education and enter the workforce, the rate of change between 1960 and 2016 means that American women are still not expected to reach pay equity with men until 2059. In fact, the progress started slowing down in 2001 and has even somewhat stalled over the years — if it continues to lose momentum, women might not actually reach pay equity until 2119.
In 2017, the United States moved down four spots to no. 49 in its World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking compared to 2016. It recorded some improvement on the Economic Opportunity and Participation subindex—in particular due to a smaller gender gap on the wage equality for similar work indicator—but experienced a decline overall and has only closed nearly 72 percent of its total gender gap, a decrease of just two percent since 2015.
And it's not only women in the United States who aren't afforded the same salaries as their male counterparts. A 2017 report from the United Nations Population Fund, called The State of World Population 2017, found that no country was left untouched by sexism and discrimination when it came to women in the workplace. Women earn 23 percent less than men around the world, the study found. In fact, the average pay for women globally is $12,000, compared with $21,000 for men, which means that women around the world will not earn as much as men for 217 years, according to the WEF).
Gender equality is the fifth out of 17 sustainable development goals agreed upon by 193 countries under the 1994 Programme of Action, with the deadline of 2030. Closing the pay gap could add an extra $1,750 billion to the GDP of the United States, $250 billion to the GDP of Britain and $2.5 trillion to China's GDP. But there's a lot of work to be done.
Here's what the gender gap looks like around the world today in the top 10 countries thus far, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report. Because even they have room for significant improvement.
Countries should really be looking to Iceland, which has recently become the first country to make it illegal to pay men more than women. Iceland introduced the legislation on Jan. 1, which imposes fines on any company or government agency with over 25 staff members without a government certificate demonstrating pay inequality. The legislation didn't come as too much of a surprise: Iceland is the world's most gender-equal country, according to the WEF. It takes the top spot in the WEF report for the ninth year in a row, closing more than 87 percent of its overall gender gap. But, that said, Iceland dropped out of the global top 10 on Economic Participation and Opportunity due to a small increase of its gender gap in the number of women among legislators, senior officials and managers.
Norway took second place in 2017, closing more than 83 percent of its overall gender gap. It continues a multi-year steady improvement on its gender gap in the number of women among legislators, senior officials and managers, but 2017 saw slowing progress on its previous improvements in wage equality for similar work. It also recorded a slight decrease in the share of women in ministerial positions, moving down one spot on the Political Empowerment subindex to fourth, globally.
Finland took third place in 2017, closing more than 82 percent of its overall gender gap. But it dropped three spots on Political Empowerment, re-opening its previously fully-closed gender gap in the number of women in ministerial positions while narrowing its gender gap in the number of women in parliament. It has, however, fully closed its gender gap on Educational Attainment.
Rwanda has steadily closed 82 percent of its overall gender gap, mostly due to continued progress on its Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex score, on the back of improved parity in estimated earned income and, particularly, a significant narrowing of its gender gap in the number of women in ministerial positions. It's also the country with the highest share of female parliamentarians in the world (61 percent), so it advanced five spots on the Political Empowerment subindex, where it now ranks third globally.
After continuously maintaining its overall Index ranking for eight years in a row, Sweden moved from fourth to fifth place in 2017. But the country has closed more than 81 percent of its overall gender gap, and it maintains a strong position on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex (thanks to progress on the wage equality for similar work indicator).
Nicaragua saw a big increase in its overall Index score and rose four places, to sixth place in 2017. It's closed more than 81 percent of its overall gender gap and remains the best performer in the Latin America and the Caribbean region for the sixth year running. The latest rise is primarily because of its significant improvement in gender parity on the estimated earned income indicator, for which the country entered the top 10 for the first time.
Slovenia moveed up a spot due to improvements on the Economic Participation and Opportunity subindex and increased parity in the number of legislators, senior officials and managers. And, with 80 percent of its overall gender gap closed, it remains the strongest performing country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is also one of the fastest-improving countries in the world thus far.
Ireland has closed 79 percent of its overall gender gap, it fully closed gender gap on Educational Attainment from last year, and it also sees an increase in gender parity in the number of legislators, senior officials and managers. But it has seen a decrease in gender parity in the number of women in ministerial positions.
9. New Zealand
New Zealand has maintained its position from 2016, and has closed 79 percent of its overall gender gap. The country rose four spots on the Political Empowerment subindex, with increased gender parity in ministerial positions and parliamentarians. But, that said, it is yet to fully re-close its Educational Attainment gender gap, which was re-opened last year for the first time since 2008.
10. The Philippines
The Philippines has closed 79 pecent of its overall gender gap, but moved from the highest performer in the East Asia and the Pacific region to second place after New Zealand. That's largely because of its worsening performance on the wage equality for similar work indicator, dropping from seventh to 21st place.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.