Report 2020

Poland on the way to SDGs
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SDG 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Discrimination against women worldwide

Sex-based discrimination, although at present slightly less widespread than over a decade ago, is still a common phenomenon. Its scope and form vary across different parts of the world, depending among others on the cultural background and the level of development of a given region.

Generally, women have more limited access to education than men (2/3 of all people who cannot read or write are women) and to the labour market (there are more unemployed women than men). Women also perform much more unpaid work at home and are involved in the care of children and the elderly to a much larger extent than men, on average spending three times more time on such tasks than men. In many countries women still cannot make independent life decisions. Globally, over 20% of women aged 20-24 get married before reaching adulthood, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa (35% of all young women from that region) and South Asia (29%). Women also have limited access to sexual health services, and many cannot fully assert their reproductive rights (only 55% of all women worldwide assert their reproductive rights; the fewest, 42%, in South Asia, and the most, 81%, in Europe).

Women participate in public life to a lesser extent than men and have less impact on the decision-making process. However, the situation has improved compared to several years before. Still, globally women hold only 25% of seats in national parliaments (16% in 2005). They are most represented at national parliamentary level in European countries (31% of all deputies) and least represented in the region of Oceania (17%).

Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%)

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2005 2020
WORLD 15.91 24.93
Northern Africa 10.85 20.13
Sub-Saharan Africa 14.44 24.34
Latin America and the Caribbean 19.01 32.09
Northern America 17.50 25.88
ASIA 13.31 19.49
Central Asia 11.62 25.35
Eastern Asia 18.12 21.64
South-Eastern Asia 15.53 20.44
Southern Asia 8.79 17.34
Western Asia 5.74 15.57
EUROPE 20.50 31.44
Eastern Europe 14.06 22.39
Northern Europe 28.03 36.35
Southern Europe 17.08 33.28
Western Europe 25.83 35.80
OCEANIA 11.18 16.56

Qualifications of Polish women

In Poland, as in other EU countries, inequalities between the sexes can be observed for example on the labour market, despite women’s better educational qualifications. Women are less likely to discontinue education at an early stage: only 3.6% of women aged 18-24 leaves education at a lower secondary level, compared to 6.7% of men. Women are also more likely to continue education at tertiary level. Over 50% of women aged 30-34 have tertiary education, whereas in the case of men it is less than 40%. Women and men choose different fields of study. Three times more women than men train to be teachers or study humanities or social sciences (22% of female students against 8% of male students), whereas half less women than men select natural sciences or engineering as their university subject (9% of female students against 17% of male students).

Tertiary educational attainment of population aged 30-34 (%)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
PL female 40.4 43.2 46.5 48.4 50.2 52.0 53.9 55.5 55.5 56.4
male 29.5 30.0 31.9 32.9 34.2 35.1 35.6 36.3 36.3 37.2
female 37.3 38.7 40.2 41.4 42.3 43.4 43.9 44.9 45.8 46.7
male 30.3 31.0 31.8 32.9 33.6 34.0 34.4 34.9 35.7 36.6

Polish women on the labour market

Women’s advantage in education does not translate into equal employment opportunities. In parallel with the overall improvement of socio-economic conditions, women’s situation on the labour market has changed and is better now than at the beginning of the decade. However, the employment rate of women at working age is still lower than the employment rate of men at working age (70% as compared to 79%), and women’s unemployment rate in the same age group is higher than men’s unemployment rate (4% as compared to 3%). Women more often than men fully withdraw from the labour market, mostly because of their caring responsibilities. 23% of women aged 25-59 are professionally inactive, which is a smaller percentage than in 2010 (28%), but a larger one than the percentage of professionally inactive men (11%). Taking care of children and other family member requiring care or personal or family commitments, are the reasons of economically inactive of 64% women. In the case of men, on the other hand, it is only 16%. The percentage of women professionally inactive due to their caring responsibilities in Poland is among the highest in the EU, and shows an upward trend.

Working women in Poland earn on average 9% less than men. That difference is smaller than the EU average (16%), but it has doubled since 2010, in contrast to the general trend in the region. The largest discrepancies are observed e.g. in the financial and insurance sectors, as well as in the information- and communications-related professions, where women earn 30% less than men. However, there are sectors like transport, storage and construction where women earn more than men (by 5%-8%).

Employment rate at working age in Poland (%)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
female 59.9 60.2 60.8 61.2 63.1 64.6 66.1 67.6 69.4 69.9
male 68.9 69.4 69.6 69.8 71.4 72.4 74.2 76.0 77.3 78.6

Women in public life

As in other countries, women in Poland participate less actively in economic and political life than men, although their presence there has increased over the last decade. They hold more than 46% of managerial positions (a slight increase since 2010), but it is still the case that the higher the management level, the weaker the female representation. Women hold half of managerial positions (similar to 2010), but there are only 30% (28% in 2010) of female legislators, senior officials and chief executives. The proportion of women in managerial positions varies across sectors. Females constitute the majority (63%-73%) of managers in retail and wholesale trade, gastronomy, the hotel industry and business and management services. In agriculture, ICT, industry, construction and distribution, on the other hand, they hold fewer managerial positions than men (less than 20% of all managerial positions in those sectors).

Women are present in Polish political life to a lesser extent than men, although the situation has improved considerably in the last decade, as a result of, among other factors, the introduction of the electoral law, amendment that guaranteed women at least 35% of places on electoral lists for local government, the Sejm, the Senate and the European Parliament. Presently, women hold 28% of the seats in the Sejm and Senate, compared to 18% in 2010. This is still a slightly lower percentage than the EU average of 30% female representation in national parliaments.

Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
PL 17.5 22.0 22.0 22.3 21.5 24.6 25.5 25.9 26.1 27.9
EU 23.6 23.6 25.3 26.7 27.2 28.0 28.2 29.8 30.6 31.7

Raport 2020
PPoland on the way to SDGs
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