Launch of the Joining Forces for Gender Equality report, May 2023


Remarks by Mathias Cormann, Secretary-General, OECD

9 May 2023


Dear Ambassadors,


Friends, All,

Thank you for joining us for today’s launch of our Joining Forces for Gender Equality report.

This report is a major contribution, providing new data and analysis on gender equality, identifying the progress we have made, the challenges we face, and the policies needed help us get to where we need to be.

The report finds that OECD countries have made progress in narrowing some longstanding gender gaps.

For example, the take up of parental leave by fathers has increased, facilitating more equal sharing of childcare responsibilities.

In Canada, Germany, Japan and Korea the share of fathers taking parental leave after birth more than doubled between 2010 and 2020.

More than half of all OECD countries [21 out of 38] have also mandated private sector firms to report gender-disaggregated pay or undergo gender pay audits.

These types of transparency measures can help combat differences in pay for equal work by raising awareness and providing the evidence to address them with more targeted action by policy makers and firms.

Progress has also been made when it comes to women’s participation on the boards of the largest publicly listed companies, which increased from around 21% in 2016 to 28% in 2021 – partly due to the increased use of quotas and targets, as well as complementary initiatives such as training and mentorship programmes, role model schemes, and peer-to-peer support.

We have also seen the level of focus on gender-equality expand to a wider range of policy areas – including on foreign direct investment, the environment, energy, nuclear energy, trade, and transport – helping to ensure that a gender lens is applied to identify situations where policies affect men and women differently.

However, the report also finds there is more work to be done.

All OECD countries need to step up their efforts to achieve genuine gender equality.

Even though girls and young women have higher educational attainment, men continue to be more likely to be employed.

While the share of women involved in starting and managing new businesses varies greatly across OECD countries, overall, women were about 30% less likely than men to be involved in starting and managing a new business in 2021.

Women-operated businesses were also more likely to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely due to sector effects, but also family responsibilities and greater difficulties accessing emergency business support schemes.

Barriers to advancement remain, with women’s share in management positions only increasing from 31.1% to 33.7% between 2016 and 2021.

As a result, there is a substantial pay gap, with women earning about 12% less than men in 2021 on average in the OECD, measured at median earnings for full-time workers.

In addition, despite significant advances, young women are still less likely to pursue studies in fields like engineering, mathematics and computing – which are typically characterised by higher pay compared to human- and care-centred educational pathways and occupations.

This, despite the fact that girls generally fare better than boys in science and reading scores in school, and their gap in mathematics scores has been declining steadily.

Women’s representation in politics and public decision-making – shown to improve decision-making processes and appreciation of issues that affect women and families – has increased gradually in the OECD since 2017.

But progress has been slow and uneven across countries.

Realising gender quality and removing structural barriers must remain a priority.

It is a matter of basic human rights and long-term economic growth and well-being.

Indeed, closing gender gaps in labour force participation and working hours would substantially boost GDP by 9.2% across OECD countries by 2060 – adding 0.23 percentage points to average annual growth.

Today’s report is designed to help achieve the necessary progress, providing policy recommendations:
- To close the gender pay gap, through further pay transparency and flexible work opportunities;
- To boost women’s entrepreneurship – through accelerator programmes and growth-oriented financing;
- To increase women and girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and jobs;
- To tackle discriminatory social norms, including through education and leadership representation; and
- To mainstream gender equality across government by systematically integrating it into policy assessments.

The report also identifies strategies to end and prevent gender-based and sexual violence, which is experienced by nearly one in three women worldwide in their lifetime.

Gender equality is a core value and a strategic priority for the OECD.

We work through our data and evidence-based policy analysis, our standard setting, and our global relations outreach and participation in global fora, to drive progress.

This year, we are also in the process of developing a strategy on the OECD’s contribution to promoting gender equality; discussing across the organisation and with members our priorities and what new initiatives could further increase our ambition.

To be as effective as we can be in taking action and realising outcomes.

With that, I’ll hand the floor to our Gender and Diversity Champion, Deputy Secretary-General Ulrik Knudsen.

I very much look forward to the discussion


Related Documents


Annual report
2024 Ministerial Council Meeting documents
2024 Ministerial Council Statement