Dubai: The world has become wealthier, but at the same time more unequal today than at any other point since the Second World War some 75 years ago.
The gender gap, across the globe, is still wide, even in industrialised and developed nations. Women need to work more than men, but are still earning 24 per cent less than men, a UN report, which was released yesterday, said.
Titled “Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights”, the UN report noted that despite “significant achievements” since the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, the changes have not yet resulted in equal outcomes for women and men.
Globally, three quarters of working age men are in the labour force, compared to half of working age women, the report said.
“Everywhere, women continue to be denied equal pay for work of equal value and are less likely than men to receive a pension, which translates into large income inequalities throughout their lives,” the report added.
The 337-page report focuses on economic and social dimensions of gender equality, including the right of all women to a good job, with fair pay and safe working conditions and an adequate pension in older age, to health care and to safe water, without discrimination based on factors such as social economic status, geographic location and race or ethnicity.
However, equality, experts say, is a very complex issue bigger than just a gap in numbers. To achieve equality, lots of efforts are needed as the existing system is a “system of inequality across the board”, they added.
“To change the global system, you have to change the whole mentality,” said Rima Sabban, assistant professor of sociology at Zayed University in Dubai. “And to change the whole mentality you need to change men’s mentality also. It is not a regulation thing; you change a law and the reality changes. No, it is a whole system, that includes culture, understanding and [social] classes,” she told Gulf News.
Sabban strongly believes that when it comes to equality, efforts should also touch “real respect and appreciation of women”. She gives violence as an example.
“What happens if we bridge the gap [of discrimination], but there is still violence against women?”
While the report noted the world’s changes in the past two decades, including the rise of extremism, escalating violence and deepening economic crisis, it added the world today is both wealthier and more unequal more than any point since the Second World War.
“The richest 1 per cent of the world’s population now owns about 40 per cent of the world’s assets, while the bottom half owns no more than 1 per cent,” the report said.
The UN report listed a list of several steps that can be taken to bridge the gap between men and women with the aim of full realisation of economic and social rights for all, including creating more jobs for women and to use human rights standards to shape policies.
10 priorities for public action
1. Create more and better jobs for women
2. Reduce occupational segregation and gender pay gaps
3. Strengthen women’s income security throughout the life cycle
4. Recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work
5. Invest in gender responsive social services
6. Maximise resources for the achievement of substantive equality
7. Support women’s organisations to claim rights and shape policy agendas at all levels
8. Create an enabling global environment for the realisation of women’s rights
9. Use human rights standards to shape policies and catalyse change
10. Generate evidence to assess progress in women’s economic and social rights.