Emma Watson in Davos: Gender equality would be the ‘single biggest stimulus to the economy’
28.12.2016

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We will never achieve gender equality unless everyone – girls, boys, women, men – are involved. That, in a nutshell, was Emma Watson’s message in Davos, where she came to launch UN Women’s new HeforShe website.

The UN Women Goodwill Ambassador was interviewing 10 male CEOs who have committed to advancing gender parity. The companies also released data on their gender diversity figures – something Watson described as a “big deal”.

Speaking to McKinsey CEO Dominic Barton about his company’s latest findings on gender parity, she noted that full female participation in the workforce could boost GDP by $28 trillion within a decade, the “single biggest stimulus to the economy”.

It’s clear from 10 years of Forum research on the gender gap that some progress has been made. Around the world, almost a quarter of a billion more women are in the workforce today than a decade ago. In many countries, more women are graduating from university than men.

And yet the findings of the latest Global Gender Gap report are disappointing. The gender gap across health, education, economic opportunity and politics has closed by only 4% in the past 10 years. The economic gap has closed by just 3% and if progress continues at the same slow pace, it will take another 118 years for women to be earning the same as men.

Closing the gap will mean bringing together leaders from government, business and beyond to remove the obstacles that hold women back. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Task Forces are doing just that in Mexico, Turkey, Japan and the Republic of Korea, aiming to narrow the economic gender gap by up to 10% in three years. As Rick Goings, CEO of the company Tupperware Brands, put it:

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Tupperware Brands provides jobs for women in emerging markets. Writing in an earlier article for Agenda, Rick Goings wrote of the “ripple effect” through families and communities when women can get ahead at work. “In Indonesia, our largest market, we have seen women increase their income level by a factor of 75. Whereas men are prone to think ‘me’, women have a mindset of ‘we’,” he wrote.

Later today at Davos, Melinda Gates, Sheryl Sandberg and Justin Trudeau will discuss how to make further progress towards gender parity, in a session you can follow on livestream here.

The Annual Meeting is taking place in Davos from 20 to 23 January, under the theme “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Written by

Stéphanie Thomson, Editor, World Economic Forum

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