Gender equality will take decades to achieve finds the Equal Opportunities Commission

Gender equality is still generations away and needs urgent action across all aspects of life to close the stubborn gaps in the next 10 years, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has warned.

Completing the Revolution, the EOC’s final report before it is absorbed into the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) on 1 October, identifies 22 leading indicators that measure the state of the nation in terms of gender equality.

The indicators show gender gaps across all areas of life, and at the current rate of progress change will be painfully slow. For example:

  • The “power gap” for women in Parliament will take almost 200 years to close and it will take up to 65 years to have a more equitable balance of women at the top of FTSE 100 companies.
  • The “pensions gap” will take 45 years to equalise: retired women’s income is currently 40% less than men’s.
  • The “part-time pay gap” will take 25 years to close and the “full time pay gap” 20 years. Currently, women working part-time earn 38% less per hour than men working full time. Full time female employees earn 17% less per hour than men.
  • The “flexible working gap” is unlikely ever to change unless further action is taken. Even though half of working men say they would like to work more flexibly, currently women are much more likely than men (63% more likely) to work flexibly.

The publication of today’s report coincides with the launch of the EOC’s Gender Agenda campaign, which highlights the work left to do on the eve of the transfer to the CEHR.

Jenny Watson, EOC chair, said: “A country that channels women into low paid work fails to adequately support families and forces people who want to work flexibly to trade down in jobs, pays a high price in terms of child poverty, family breakdown and low productivity.

“This is a challenge that Gordon Brown’s new government urgently needs to address.

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