Nearly 40% of the world’s girls and women live in countries failing on gender equality

Promoting gender equality in Africa

Results for 129 countries measured by a new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Gender Index released by Equal Measures 2030 show that the world is far from achieving gender equality, with 1.4 billion girls and women living in countries that get a “very poor” failing grade on gender equality.

The SDG Gender Index, launched at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, is the most comprehensive tool available to measure the state of gender equality aligned to the SDGs. The index, covering 14 of the 17 SDGs, measures countries on 51 issues ranging from health, gender-based violence, climate change, decent work and others.

The global average score of the 129 countries—which represents 95% of the world’s girls and women— is 65.7 out of 100 (“poor” in the index scoring system). No one country is the world’s best performer—or even among the world’s top ten performers—across all goals or all issues.

In 2015, world leaders from all countries committed to achieve gender equality by 2030 for every girl and every woman when they signed on to the ambitious goals and targets of the SDGs.

Overall, the world is furthest behind on gender equality issues related to public finance and better gender data (SDG 17), climate change (SDG 13), gender equality in industry and innovation (SDG 9) and – worryingly – the standalone ‘gender equality’ goal (SDG 5).

Denmark tops the index, followed closely by Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. The countries with the lowest scores in the index – Niger, Yemen, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad – have all faced conflict and fragility in recent years.

“With just 11 years to go, our index finds that not a single one of the 129 countries is fully transforming their laws, policies or public budget decisions on the scale needed to reach gender equality by 2030. We are failing to deliver on the promises of gender equality for literally billions of girls and women,” said Alison Holder, Director of Equal Measures 2030.

“This report should serve as a wakeup call to the world. We won’t meet the SDGs with 40% of girls and women living in countries that are failing on gender equality,” said Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “But the SDG Gender Index also shows that progress is possible. Many countries with the most limited resources are making huge strides in removing the barriers for girls and women across economies, politics and society – demonstrating that when it comes to gender equality, governments shouldn’t have excuses for inaction.”

“As advocates for gender equality in Africa, we can no longer operate on presumptions and approximations. Gaps of inequalities must be marked, counted and recorded so that the trail of implementation is clear and decision makers are held to account. The SDG Gender Index will help to ensure that Africa’s girls and women are counted and accounted for,” said Memory Kachambwa, Executive Director of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET).

“With 8,000 decision-makers, advocates, and influencers gathered in Vancouver as part of the Women Deliver Conference, and over 100,000 participating around the world, we have the collective power to drive real progress on these gender equality scores and create real impact for girls and women,” said Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver.

Released alongside the index, a new report from Plan International revealed that a vast majority of girls worldwide want to take leadership positions in the workplace, politics and wider society, yet more than 9 out of 10 believe as women leaders they will suffer widespread discrimination and sexual harassment.

Read Also: Key findings of the TAC Baseline Study [Infographic]

Close to 10,000 girls and young women between 15 and 24 years were surveyed in 19 countries as part of the research released today at the Women Deliver 2019 Conference.

Of all girls and young women surveyed, 76% said they aspired to be a leader and over 60% said they felt confident of their abilities to lead. At the same time, 94% believed that being a leader involved being treated unfairly as compared to men and 93% felt female leaders experienced unwanted physical contact. Alarmingly, this perception was stronger amongst young women who had some experience of leadership than those who had none.

“The findings show that despite having the aspirations to lead, girls and young women have extremely negative perceptions of what being a female leader involves,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International. “No matter where you are – USA or India, Japan or Sudan – for girls and women globally, being a leader means discrimination and harassment. That’s a major deterrent. In light of this, it’s not surprising that only 24% of parliamentarians worldwide and only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
The report: Taking the Lead, is the first of its kind that shines a light on girls’ and young women’s leadership aspirations, perceptions and real experiences across diverse societies and economies across the globe. It is jointly produced with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Credit: SDG Gender Index

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