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World is falling short on gender equality

More than 340 million women and girls are projected to live in extreme poverty by 2030. UN Photo/URN

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Despite global efforts, the world is falling short of achieving gender equality.

This year’s edition of the UN Women “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2023”, launched on Thursday, paints a worrisome picture halfway through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The gender snapshot 2023” warns that, if current trends continue, more than 340 million women and girls an estimated 8 percent of the world’s female population will live in extreme poverty by 2030, and close to one in four will experience moderate or severe food insecurity. The gender gap in power and leadership positions remains entrenched, and, at the current rate of progress, the next generation of women will still spend on average 2.3 more hours per day on unpaid care and domestic work than men.

The annual publication provides a comprehensive analysis of the current state of gender equality across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and highlights prevailing trends, gaps, and recent setbacks on the journey towards achieving gender equality by 2030.

This year’s report includes sex-disaggregated data on the intersections of gender and climate change for the first time and projects that by mid-century, under a worst-case climate scenario, climate change may push up to 158.3 million more women and girls into poverty or 16 million more than the total number of men and boys.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Sarah Hendriks said that in this critical midpoint moment for the SDGs, this year’s report is a resounding call to action. “We must collectively and intentionally act now to course-correct for a world where every woman and girl has equal rights, opportunities, and representation. To achieve this, we need unwavering commitment, innovative solutions, and collaboration across all sectors and stakeholders,” she said.

With a special focus this year on older women, the report finds that older women face higher rates of poverty and violence than older men. In 28 of the 116 countries with data, fewer than half of older women have a pension; in 12 countries fewer than 10 percent had access to a pension.

Halfway to 2030, progress on SDG 5 – gender equality – is clearly way off track.

The report shows that the world is failing women and girls with a mere two Goal 5 indicators being “close to target” and no SDG 5 indicator at the “target met or almost met” level. More than 340 million women and girls are projected to live in extreme poverty by 2030.

This represents a staggering 8 percent of the global female population surviving on less than USD 2.15 a day. Social protections, access to decent work, and other support systems are urgently needed to provide a path out of poverty.

“The gender snapshot 2023” underscores the urgent need for concrete efforts to accelerate progress towards gender equality by 2030, revealing that an additional USD 360 billion per year is needed to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment across key global goals.

The report also includes calls for an integrated and holistic approach, greater collaboration among stakeholders, sustained funding, and policy actions to address gender disparities and empower women and girls worldwide, concluding that failure to prioritize gender equality now could jeopardize the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Gender equality is not just a goal within the 2030 Agenda,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UN DESA. “It is the very foundation of a fair society and a goal upon which all other goals must stand.

By breaking down the barriers that have hindered the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of society, we unleash the untapped potential that can drive progress and prosperity for all.”

Some of the hurdles to Women’s equality according to the report include Workplace discrimination and inequalities. It is estimated that only 61 percent of prime working-age women participate in the labor force, compared to 91 percent of prime working-age men. This affects both economic growth and societal progress. In 2019, for each dollar men earned in labor income, women earned only 51 cents. An imbalance in unpaid care work was also identified among the 11 impediments.

The report found that the gap between the time spent by women and men on unpaid care will narrow slightly, but by 2050, women globally will still be spending 9.5 percent more time (2.3 more hours per day) on unpaid care work than men. This persistent gap limits women’s participation in education, employment, and other opportunities.



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