Long way to go

Only two countries don’t mandate maternity leave — and the U.S. is one of them

(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The United States and Papua New Guinea are the only countries left in the world that still don’t guarantee paid maternity leave, according to a new report on gender equality from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD ranked 120 countries on their efforts at combating gender discrimination. The index listed Switzerland as the most gender-equal country in the world due to its strong legal protections for women and widespread social support for equality. It was followed by Denmark, Sweden, France, and Portugal. Guinea, Jordan, Iran, Pakistan, and Yemen were called out as the worst countries in the world for gender equality.

The report also sought to quantify the costs of gender-based discrimination such as female genital mutilation, abortion bans, pay gaps, and violence against women. According to OECD, such discrimination likely cost the global economy $6 trillion last year. The gender pay gap, the report found, was 13.6 percent across developed countries. Women also still make up less than 25 percent of parliamentary seats globally, a statistic that was recently decried by top women leaders at a UN summit.

“Despite a global realization that women’s equality is an urgent priority, we are moving too slowly in closing gender gaps, and in some countries gender gaps have even widened,” said OECD chief of staff Gabriela Ramos. “We need to do more and to do it better. We need to be smarter in the way we design and execute policies and be held more accountable on the results. Otherwise we may be looking at another 200 years to achieve gender equality.”

Read the full story at the World Economic Forum.

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