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How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth

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A McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. The public, private, and social sectors will need to act to close gender gaps in work and society.

Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women—who account for half the world’s working-age population—do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer. While all types of inequality have economic consequences, in McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth, we focus on the economic implications of lack of parity between men and women.

A “best in region” scenario in which all countries match the rate of improvement of the fastest-improving country in their region could add as much as $12 trillion, or 11 percent, in annual 2025 GDP. In a “full potential” scenario in which women play an identical role in labor markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to global annual GDP by 2025. MGI’s full-potential estimate is about double the average estimate of other recent studies, reflecting the fact that MGI has taken a more comprehensive view of gender inequality in work.

Even after decades of progress toward making women equal partners with men in the economy and society, the gap between them remains large. We acknowledge that gender parity in economic outcomes (such as participation in the workforce or presence in leadership positions) is not necessarily a normative ideal, as it involves human beings making personal choices about the lives they lead; we also recognize that men can be disadvantaged relative to women in some instances. However, we believe that the world, including the private sector, would benefit by focusing on the large economic opportunity of improving parity between men and women.

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