GENEVA (Reuters) - Women will not reach parity with men until the middle of the next century as the COVID-19 pandemic hits them hardest, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report released on Wednesday.
"The pandemic has fundamentally impacted gender equality in both the workplace and the home, rolling back years of progress," said WEF's managing director Saadia Zahidi.
The annual report estimated that the gender gap will not be closed for another 135.6 years, versus 99.5 years previously.
A report by a global body of legislatures earlier this month was more optimistic, saying gender parity in politics would take 50 years.
Progress is stalling partly because women are more frequently employed in sectors affected by lockdowns, combined with added pressures of care at home, it said.
WEF cited data from the International Labour Organization showing that women had lost jobs at higher rates due to higher representation in sectors disrupted by lockdowns, such as the consumer sectors.
Overall, Iceland was ranked the most gender-equal country and Western Europe the most equal region. The largest gender gap was in the Middle East and North Africa region, the report said.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Dan Grebler)