Women worldwide earn only three quarters of what male workers are paid, while they do almost two and half times the amount of housework, a United Nations report has found.
Calling for a major shakeup in global economic and social policy, "Progress of the World's Women" says that, on average, women earn 24 per cent less than men.
Women in South Asia experience the biggest pay gap, with an average of 33 per cent, while women in the Middle East and North Africa experience the smallest, with an average of 14 per cent.
UN Women says that despite progress on women's rights over the past two decades, the current situation is not acceptable or understandable.
The report, to be released in Sydney on Tuesday, says that female labour force participation has "stagnated" since 1990. Over the past two decades, the number of women overall in the paid work force has dropped from 52 to 50 per cent - although the drop is not as much as it is for men, who have slipped from 81 to 77 per cent.
The report finds that women make up 63 per cent of clerical and support positions, 55 per cent of sales positions but only 33 per cent of managerial positions.
It asks: "At a time when women and girls have almost equal opportunities when it comes to education, why are only half of women of working age in the labour force globally, and why do women still earn much less than men?"
When it comes the housework, women do almost two and a half times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men, and if paid and unpaid work are combined, "women in almost all countries work longer hours than men each day".
Just 8 per cent of working women in developing countries with a child under six have either childcare or domestic help that is not a family member to look after their children.
UN Women suggests a wide range of solutions from making maternity and paternity leave available to all workers, to quotas and targets for women in male-dominated industries and encouraging girls to study maths, science and engineering.
The report highlights that much work is also left to do when it comes to protecting women's rights through legal measures.
While almost all countries worldwide have signed on to the UN's convention to eliminate discrimination against women, many retain official "reservations". This includes 26 countries who have made reservations when it comes to women's rights in marriage and family.
It finds that of countries with available data, 73 per cent have passed laws on domestic violence.
UN Women Australia executive director Julie McKay said the report highlighted that "around the world, there's no country that's achieved gender equality and women's empowerment fully".
Ms McKay said she had an "intense" level of frustration that "we have not made more progress".
"How long is it going to be before we start taking women's economic security more seriously?" she asked.
She noted the Australian government had set a target, through the G20 last year, to reduce the gap in women's participation rates by 25 per Cent by 2025, but there was no clear strategy yet for achieving it.