A young woman entering the job market today can expect to work for the equivalent of an average of four years more than her male peers over her lifetime, says international anti-poverty organisation ActionAid.
The findings form part of ActionAid's research into how countries are preparing to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals they pledged to take action on one year ago.
ActionAid International CEO Adriano Campolina said governments around the world were failing to tackle gender inequality.
"Countries aren't prepared. They don't have the adequate policies in place to ensure that they will meet the goals, particularly around gender equality," Holly Miller, a spokeswoman for ActionAid Australia, told The World Today.
Campolina said there were a number of ways governments could address the inequality. "All governments, rich and poor, must develop and be held accountable to plans that reduce inequality," he said.
"The accompanying policies must recognise, redistribute and reduce women's unpaid care work, improve women and young people's decent work opportunities and wages, and improve women's access to and control over natural and economic resources."
In the Australian context, the report found that, despite being a wealthy nation, high income inequality was also contributing to gender inequality.
"People can experience multiple and overlapping inequalities, regardless of where they live. Australia ranked second in the 2015 UN Human Development Index and has legislative protection against gender discrimination so it seems realistic that it should be able to achieve SDG 5 [gender equality] and SDG 10 [reduced inequalities]," the report said.
The report also found that women will continue to experience inequality unless changes are made to recognize and redistribute women's unpaid care work.