A joint study by the Clinton and Gates foundations has compiled the most comprehensive database ever on women’s participation in the global economy and politics, documenting not just the persistent wage gap in the U.S. but also that women’s participation in the workforce has stagnated over the last 20 years.
The study is an outgrowth of the No Ceilings initiative, first begun by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Its findings will be available Monday — the day after International Women's Day — on an interactive website, www.noceilings.org.
As a follow-up to the report, the Clinton Foundation has enlisted a roster of celebrities, publications, fashion brands and social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, that on Monday will temporarily remove women from their magazine covers, billboards, advertisements and online venues to make the point that the world is lagging on gender equality. Among the celebrities participating in the "Not There" campaign are Amy Poehler, Blake Lively, Chrissy Teigen and Sienna Miller.
Chelsea Clinton, at the helm of the campaign, began a media tour on the Clinton Foundation's efforts last week amid revelations that her mother kept a private email account while she was secretary of state. Clinton repeatedly dodged that question, along with another pressing inquiry: Was her mother planning to run for president. "I support my mom in whatever she does," she told The Hollywood Reporter, "and I realize that might sound flippant, but I mean it so sincerely, because ultimately, kind of first and last, she is my mom. I have no doubt that she'll make the right choice for herself and our country, and regardless of whatever choice she makes, she'll still be my mom, and I'm so lucky and grateful I get to say that."
Aiming to stay focused on the topic at hand — the No Ceilings initiatives — Clinton said that the joint Clinton-Gates study and ensuing campaign grew out of "conversations with Melinda Gates" and ultimately compiled "what we believe to be the most comprehensive dataset ever around the participation of women and girls, relying on data from traditional development partners like the UN and the World Bank, less traditional development partners but academic partners from UCLA and others, think-tank partners like The Economist Intelligence Unit, technology partners like Facebook."
Clinton said she was surprised that labor-force participation has stagnated around the world in the last 20 years. "There's been a lot of focus on the wage gap, and so I was sadly not surprised by the wage gap that still yawns, not just here in the United States but across the world," she said. "But I was surprised that labor-force participation has not changed as much as we would have hoped it would have."
"There still are more than 100 countries where there are legal restrictions around the types of jobs women can have, where it's legal to discriminate against women in hiring or employment, legal to discriminate in pay," Clinton said. "There are dozens of other countries where it's legal to discriminate against women in access to credit, to loans and financing."
Clinton, who said she "stood up in my living room and cheered" when Patricia Arquette denounced gender discrimination from the Oscar podium, believes the social media reaction to Arquette's speech "clearly exposes how keenly [gender inequality] is felt in the United States.
"What she was talking about in Hollywood, and also more broadly, is clearly backed up by the evidence," Clinton said. "Very real pay gaps exist between women and men in multiple sectors of our economy."
According to Clinton, the study found that, while women globally have made significant progress in gaining electoral office, their participation still dramatically lags their percentage of the population.
"In 1995, 12 percent of national legislators were women; last year, it was 22 percent," she told THR. "In this country, 20 percent of our Congressional lawmakers are women. Again, we've made progress, but we still have a long way to go. Part of that involves countries removing legal barriers to women's political participation — there are still countries where women are not allowed to run for office — but part of it is helping to shift mindsets. Surveys in many countries, and this is something we talk about in the report, show that people — men and often women, too — continue to believe that men make better political leaders than women do."