GENEVA - The economic gender gap could take 170 years to close after progress towards parity between the sexes suffered "a dramatic slowdown", the World Economic Forum (WEF) said in a report on Wednesday.
Despite the fact women have made major gains in educational achievement -- catching or surpassing men in 95 countries -- women still earn less in exchange for longer hours, are less likely to have a job and are far less likely to have a senior or managerial post, the report said.
The Geneva-based WEF has tracked the disparities between the sexes since 2006 in four areas: education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment.
Economics was the only area where progress was being reversed, said WEF, which is most known for organising an annual gathering of politicians, business leaders and celebrities in the Swiss alpine resort town of Davos.
"Progress towards parity in the key economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap - which stands at 59 per cent - now larger than at any point since 2008," WEF said in a statement.
Report author Saadia Zahidi explained that the 170-year projection was based on data from the past 11 years played forward with the assumption trends are replicated year after year, with no major changes.
Also built into to the 170-year figure are the massive gender gap disparities in different regions.
Western Europe for example, "could expect to close its gender gap within 47 years," while in South Asia it could take more than 1,000 years "unless efforts are accelerated," WEF said.
Overall, Nordic countries dominated the top of the table for gender parity: men and women were most equal in Iceland followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.
In fifth spot was Rwanda, where President Paul Kagame has made gender equality a key focus of his government since taking over in the aftermath of the country's genocide, although rights groups have fiercely criticised what they have described as his authoritarian manner and crackdowns on political opponents.