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South Asia faces a wake up call as it trails in global gender equality

South Asia is facing a wake up call as it trails the world in its efforts to address the gender gap, one expert told CNBC.

The World Economic Forum predicts it could now take 195 years to reach gender equality in the region — 59 years more than the global average.

Businesses have a major responsibility to bridge that gap, Sharmini Wainwright, senior managing director at recruitment agency Michael Page Australia, told CNBC.

“It’s perhaps a good wake up moment here,” Wainwright said Thursday.

India, in particular, has a long way to go in this regard, she said, noting that the pandemic and other cultural and demographic issues made it an “incredibly challenging year” for the country. Currently, just 13% of senior executives in India are women.

“There’s a long way to go,” said Wainwright. “Big Indian companies (need) to really push for change.”

The findings come as part of a wider WEF study into the impact of the pandemic on gender gap. It is now estimated that it will take 135.6 years to reach gender equality — a generation longer than previously thought.

Western Europe led the way in gender equity, with the gap there estimated to close in 53 years, followed by North America (62 years) and Latin America and the Caribbean (69 years), according to the study.

Thailand leads Asia-Pacific

More women needed in the top chair

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