An article in the November 2017 issue of Geographical, a print publication out of the UK, does an exceptional job of summarizing the current research on gender equality globally. Geographical came to my attention after having the opportunity to talk with staff at Oxfam Great Britain (Oxfam GB), in order to learn more about the way Oxfam has approached integrating gender and development for the past two and a half decades.
The article points to research showing that making gains in gender equality could add as much as $12 trillion to the economy, but also quotes some experts who are dubious about using economic arguments for achieving political gains for women. Dr. Torrun Wimpelmann says that it’s unproductive to argue with social conservatives using this economic data. Another expert, Dr. Jeni Klugman, author of a high level UN report called Leave No-One Behind, says there is room for the economic argument, since it comes at the issue pragmatically.
Nikki van der Gaag, Director of Women’s Rights and Gender Justice at Oxfam GB, is interviewed extensively in the article, and talks about ways that gender can be addressed better by both the business and development worlds. “It’s striking how much the business sector is making the arguments around the case for gender equality and diversity.” But the key point for van der Gaag is that the corporate structures still need to change — supply chains need to be more gender equal, and advocating for women can’t be a sidebar of the company, but needs to be part of the core business plan.
That is where the real challenge comes in, particularly in a world where some data suggests that serious backsliding is occurring for women. “The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Gender Gap Report concluded that gender equality has now settled back to 2008 levels,” says the article. So in 2016, according to the Gender Gap Report, we were back to 2008 in terms of gender equality gains. Essentially, we’ve already lost a decade. How much further will Trump and other social conservatives take us back in time?
Read the full article in PDF here.
More about Geographical here.