Governments and corporations key to narrowing the gender gap
For governments, the optimal policy mix extends to the spheres of education, family planning, and fiscal and labor policy measures, all of which should be designed to address the specific needs of each region. But there are universal changes that would realize meaningful gains in female workforce participation and could be made today. The first step is to address maternity, the one common denominator across nations. Best-in-practice policies suggest that paid parental leave rather than maternal leave can contribute to improving women participation rates in the economy. Likewise, ready access to subsidized and high-quality childcare plays a major role in encouraging new mothers to stay in the workforce. Gender-related corporate policies are also needed, like aspirational quotas, incentives, mentorship and sponsorship programs, to promote women into leadership positions and to narrow the wage gap.
Lasting solutions require costs, trade-offs and shift in mindset
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, closing the gender gap within a decade will cost as much as USD 2 trillion or 1.7% of global GDP. Lasting solutions and sustainable progression require a fundamental shift in mindset and cultural attitudes - the buy in of the broader society and government that these measures are for the greater good. And they will involve costs or trade-offs over the short and longer term at the family corporate and fiscal levels. The strength of the outcome will also vary by country and the extent to which social attitudes are entrenched and incentives are in place to enforce these policies.