Women and men won’t reach economic equality until 2186, index says

Job seekers prepare for career fair to open at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Job seekers prepare for career fair to open at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, January 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Efforts to close gender gaps in pay and workforce participation slowed so dramatically in the past year that men and women may not reach economic equality for another 170 years, the World Economic Forum said on Tuesday.

Statistics just a year ago predicted the economic gap between genders could close in 118 years, but progress has decelerated, stalled or reversed in nations around the world, the Swiss non-profit WEF said in its annual gender gap index.

“These forecasts are not foregone conclusions. Instead, they reflect the current state of progress and serve as a call to action,” Saadia Zahidi, a member of the WEF executive committee, said in a statement.

Overall, Iceland and Finland ranked highest among 144 nations measured on progress in equality in education, health and survival, economic opportunity and political empowerment.

Next were Norway and Sweden, followed by Rwanda, which has improved economic participation and income equality and has the highest share of female parliamentarians in the world, the WEF said.

At the bottom was Yemen, then Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, with a wide array of progress in between, it said.

The gap in political empowerment, it said, was particularly pronounced in the United States, which may soon elect its first female president. In most polls, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

The United States ranked 73rd in political empowerment, which measured the ratio of men to women in the highest levels of political decision-making, the WEF said. It ranked 45th in the global list overall.

Nations with significant political gender gaps stand to lose out, the WEF said in a 391-page report accompanying the index.

“In the political sphere, women’s engagement in public life has a positive impact on inequality across society at large,” it said. “In addition, there is a range of evidence to suggest that women’s political leadership and wider economic participation are correlated.”


Globally, the political gender gap is slowly but steadily improving, it said.

On the other hand, the economic gap this past year reverted back to where it was in 2008. It measures how many men and women participate in the labor force, their earned incomes and their job advancement.

It stands at 59 percent, meaning women’s economic participation and opportunity is a little more than half of what men have, Zahidi said.

At the current rate, and given that the gap widened last year, women and men will not be equal economically for another 170 years, the report said.

Around the world, 54 percent of working-age women on average participate in the formal economy, compared with 81 percent of men, it said.

Women’s average annual earnings are roughly half those of men, estimated at $10,778, versus $19,873, it said.

“Ensuring the healthy development and appropriate use of half of the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future readiness of economies and businesses worldwide,” the WEF said.

The gap between men and women in terms of education – literacy and school enrolment – is so small that they could be at equal levels within the next 10 years, it said.

But closing the gap in political empowerment, at current rates, could take 82 years, it said.

A nation’s score reflected how much it has closed the gaps between men and women, using data from organizations such as the International Labour Organization, United Nations Development Programme and World Health Organization, it said.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, land rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

U.S. police used Facebook, Twitter data to track protesters: ACLU

Logo of the Twitter and Facebook are seen through magnifier on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
Logo of the Twitter and Facebook are seen through magnifier on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Kristina Cooke

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. police departments used location data and other user information from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to track protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, and Twitter shut off the data access of Geofeedia, the Chicago-based data vendor that provided data to police, in response to the ACLU findings.

The report comes amid growing concerns among consumers and regulators about how online data is being used and how closely tech companies are cooperating with the government on surveillance.

“These special data deals were allowing the police to sneak in through a side door and use these powerful platforms to track protesters,” said Nicole Ozer, the ACLU’s technology and civil liberties policy director.

The ACLU report found that as recently as July, Geofeedia touted its social media monitoring product as a tool to monitor protests. Geofeedia is a software platform that enables clients to monitor posts tied to a specific location.

The company said it aims to provide real-time, publicly available information to clients including corporations, media groups, cities and sports teams. Geofeedia is committed to the principles of personal privacy, transparency and individual rights and has clear policies to prevent the inappropriate use of its software, Chief Executive Officer Phil Harris said.

“That said, we understand, given the ever-changing nature of digital technology, that we must continue to work to build on these critical protections of civil rights,” Harris said in an emailed statement.

Geofeedia works with over 500 law enforcement agencies and public safety agencies across the country, according to an email the ACLU obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In a 2016 case study obtained by the ACLU, Geofeedia quoted Baltimore police Detective Sergeant Andrew Vaccaro who said the force intercepted kids with backpacks full of rocks after the Geofeedia team alerted them to chatter from a local high school.

Baltimore was swept by rioting in April 2015 following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died from a spinal injury after being arrested by police.

In an October 2015 email message, a Geofeedia employee touted its “great success” covering racially charged protests in the aftermath of the August 2014 shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

Facebook and Instagram terminated Geofeedia’s access on Sept. 19, according to the ACLU.

“This developer only had access to data that people chose to make public,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Its access was subject to the limitations in our Platform Policy, which outlines what we expect from developers that receive data using the Facebook Platform.”

Facebook’s platform policy says developers may not “sell, license, or purchase any data obtained from us or our services.”

In a tweet, Twitter said that it was “immediately suspending Geofeedia’s commercial access to Twitter data,” following the ACLU report.

(Reporting By Kristina Cooke; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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