The UAE is setting an example for the GCC on gender equality, but even the most optimistic predictions say the pay gap won’t be closed before 2066.

A new report by management consultancy Accenture says that, as a global average, a woman earns US$100 for every $140 a man earns and if urgent action isn’t taken, it could be 2168 before parity is reached in developing economies.

“As the gender pay gap closes at a glacial pace, it robs women, families and communities of income, skills and education and deepens social inequality,” said the report, Getting to Equal 2017.

It goes on to name three “powerful equalizers,” which could mean real progress is made by 2030 in getting men and women closer to an equal footing on salary before 2066. Digital fluency, career strategy (the need for women to aim high and proactively manage their careers) and tech immersion (acquiring stronger technology skills) are the factors that could lead to “substantive progress.”

With the same goals in mind, the UAE’s Gender Balance Council announced it is releasing a workplace guide in September, produced in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The guide aims to provide advice to organisations, which can help them adopt a gender-sensitive approach in the workplace. The council is planning to collaborate with public sector employers to discuss the best ways to implement the guide’s advice.

In March, the Global Economic Forum’s Noura Khalifa Al Suwaidi sounded a note of optimism for workplace equality in the Middle East when she told Gulf Today: “The UAE is characterised by its initiatives and visions to assist women in accomplishing their goals. Backed by the UAE’s leadership, filling the economic gender gap is a goal that will not take long to reach.”

Another recent report, Women’s Careers in the GCC, was more focused on gender diversity and suggested the private sector will play a “pivotal role” in bringing about change, with multinationals in particular expected to set an example.

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