Sex equality 'generations away'

24-07-2007

Sex equality 'generations away'
Gender gaps across all areas of life will take generations to defeat, a wide-ranging study has concluded.

A situation where women are represented as equally as men at the top of government and business with equal pay will take up to 200 years, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

Completing the Revolution, the EOC's final report before it is absorbed into the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights on October 1st, identifies 22 indicators of gender equality including pay and power, support for families and safety.

It claims that it could take up to 65 years to have a more equitable balance of women at the top of FTSE 100 companies and that the 'pensions gap' will take 45 years to become fair – retired women's income is at present 40 per cent less than men's.

Equal pay is also decades off; the part-time pay gap will take 25 years to disappear and the full-time gap will take 20 years.

But it is positions of power in politics that will take the longest for women to achieve; the EOC believes it will be almost 200 years before parliament is a fair representation of society.

Men are also facing inequality; women are much more likely than men to be able to work flexibly and young men are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime.

A number of priority areas needing action have been set out by the EOC, including closing the income gap; giving better support to families; modernising public services; and sharing power equally between men and women.

EOC chair Jenny Watson said the report shows men and women's aspirations are "out of step" with reality.

"Despite the many advances over recent years, Britain's institutions have not caught up with these changes. Inequality is affecting every part of our lives," she added.

"Failure to act will have consequences for the social and financial health of countless individuals, as well as the nation as a whole.

"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."



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