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30 September 2016

Teenage pregnancy and violence against women contribute to gender inequality

I've only had time to glance at the full report from McKinsey on the UK gender gap, but the executive summary is singularly impressive. 

Why? Because it looks out of the box labelled 'public policy' and into the reality of women's lives. It recognises that life events like teenage pregnancy and violence against women have an impact which extends beyond the domestic sphere into the world of work. 

Over the past decade, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has made a sustained commitment to researching and writing about gender and diversity. Since 2007, McKinsey’s Women Matter research has explored the role women play in workplaces around the world. The UK research is based on MGI’s research world-wide. 

The Power of Parity, advancing women's equality in the United Kingdom argues that narrowing the UK gender gap in work has the potential to create an extra £150 billion on top of business-as-usual GDP forecasts in 2025, and could translate into 840,000 additional female employees. 

MGI step outside the workplace arena and call for action to tackle external barriers to women’s full labour market participation such as violence against women, and social attitudes and mindset.  Of the indicators MGI examined, data suggest that gender parity across social metrics is mixed, with UK women enjoying parity in higher education and in legal protection, but with other social indicators revealing a less positive picture. The highest disparity is in single parenthood. In addition, UK women spend almost twice as much time as men on unpaid care work, lagging North America and Oceania but ahead of the average in Western Europe
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The report also finds that while the UK has little gender inequality during childhood, with strong scores in digital inclusion, education, legal protection, child marriage and sex ratio at birth, once a woman reaches young adulthood, factors such as the UK’s relatively high prevalence of teenage pregnancy may limit her ability to enter the workforce; when coupled with low income mobility, this can restrict her future economic contribution. Gender-based violence may also impact some women during this phase, with possible ramifications for educational attainment and, later, labour-force participation. 

Within the workplace, MGI’s data suggest that national work indicators have not shown significant improvement: labour-force participation rate, hours worked, and median wage have all remained within the medium inequality range, while the women in leadership and managerial positions indicator continues to demonstrate high inequality. 

The MGI report should make uncomfortable reading for those politicians who tell us women have never had it so good. 

The Power of Parity makes a comprehensive list of recommendations and in a well-deserved compliment to the Committee’s chair, Maria Miller, identify the Women and Equalities Committee as a focus for future momentum.

I'm looking forward to reading the full report, and may come back with another post. 

You can read both the executive summary and the full report here. 

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