Inaugural event of the International Gender Champions Paris Hub, 16 February 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 16 February 2021

Dear fellow Gender Champions,

I am delighted to be part of today’s event. This is an important step forward for the platform following the praise bestowed upon it by President Macron when it was presented at the 2019 Paris Peace Forum.

Since then, the world has changed dramatically. COVID-19’s toll on people’s economies and societies has been immense. The pandemic also threatens to reverse the progress made in advancing gender equality over the last half century.

The latest OECD data on unemployment is unambiguous. During the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate for women was 7.4% compared to 6.8% for men. Global job losses were higher for women, at 5.0 %, compared to men, at 3.9%, in 2020, according to ILO.

Women face higher risks of economic insecurity. They are less able to cope with shocks, and therefore risk long-term scarring and detachment from the labour market.

Women in health care, who make up 70% of its workforce, have reported increased stress, burn-out and depression as fighting the virus has prolonged and intensified. An additional 15 million women could face gender-based violence for every 3 months of lockdown.

Across the OECD, the gender gaps in wages remains at 13% and in labour force participation at 15.5%. Gender gaps also persist in public and corporate life. Women hold less than a third of ministerial positions, while corporate boards only have 25% women.

Gender gaps persist. So, how do we emerge from the crisis more inclusive, more stainable and more resilient? As the founding member of the International Gender Champion Paris Hub, I am committed to delivering gender equality in our policy work as well as in our organisational leadership:

  • In the last 10 years under my leadership, women in senior management has doubled to 40%. I encourage the OECD to continue to improve the organisational culture to empower women.
  • In terms of the policy advice we give, our Members are listening. During the 2020 Ministerial Council Meeting, they agreed to redouble efforts to address systemic barriers to gender equality in the recovery. This highlights a message the OECD has promoted for years that gender equality and growth are inseparable.

At the OECD, we have the “Friends of Gender Equality Plus” a group of ambassadors headed by Canada and Sweden, who are with us today, and including Denmark, Iceland, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Thanks to their tireless support, the platform can make tangible progress in advancing this agenda.

Over the course of my mandate, the OECD has developed from being a “think tank” to a “do tank”. We don't just talk about gender equality, we make sure that there is real change.

Thank you.


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