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Joining Forces for Gender Equality

What is Holding us Back?

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OECD countries continue to face persistent gender inequalities in social and economic life. Young women often reach higher levels of education than young men, but remain under-represented in fields with the most lucrative careers. Women spend more time on unpaid work, face a strong motherhood penalty, encounter barriers to entrepreneurship and fare worse in labour markets overall. They are also under-represented in politics and leadership positions in public employment. These elements permeate many policy areas and economic sectors – from international trade and development assistance to energy and the environment – in which policy often lacks a strong gender focus. Violence against women, the most abhorrent manifestation of gender inequality, remains a global crisis. This publication analyses developments and policies for gender equality, such as gender mainstreaming and budgeting, reforms to increase fathers’ involvement in parental leave and childcare, pay transparency initiatives to tackle gender pay gaps, and systems to address gender-based violence. It extends the perspective on gender equality to include foreign direct investment, nuclear energy and transport. Advancing gender equality is not just a moral imperative; in times of rapidly ageing populations, low fertility and multiple crises, it will strengthen future gender-equal economic growth and social cohesion.

English Also available in: French

Gender equality in public leadership

Enabling the participation and representation of all groups in public life is important for building trust in government and sustaining vibrant and strong democracies. This chapter explores the links between gender equality in public decision making and trust in democratic institutions. The chapter also maps out recent trends in gender-balance in parliaments, cabinets and the judiciary across the OECD and discusses persistent and emerging barriers to women’s participation and representation, including in leadership positions. Finally, the chapter describes some measures taken by OECD countries to enhance women’s leadership in public decision-making roles.

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