Achieving full gender equality is still centuries away. This is the warning contained in a new report entitled Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): The Gender Snapshot 2022. The report was published by UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) in September 2022. At the current pace of progress, it may take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality.
Global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, violent conflict, climate change, and the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are further exacerbating gender disparities.
The report estimates that, if current trends continue, it will take up to 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and at least 40 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments. To eradicate child marriage by 2030, progress must be 17 times faster than progress over the last decade, with girls from the poorest rural households and in conflict-affected areas expected to suffer the most.
The report also points to a worrisome reversal in the reduction of poverty, and rising prices are likely to exacerbate this trend. By the end of 2022, around 383 million women and girls will live in extreme poverty (on less than USD 1.90 a day) compared to 368 million men and boys. At the present rate, in sub-Saharan Africa, more women and girls will live in extreme poverty by 2030 than today.
The invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war there is further worsening food insecurity and hunger, especially among women and children. In 2021, about 38 per cent of female-headed households in war-affected areas experienced moderate or severe food insecurity, compared to 20 per cent of male-headed households.
In 2020, school and preschool closures required 672 billion hours of additional unpaid childcare globally. Assuming the gender divide in care work remained the same as before the pandemic, women would have shouldered 512 billion of those hours. Schooling is crucial to improving women’s lives. Each additional year of schooling can boost a girl’s earnings as an adult by up to 20 per cent, with further impacts on poverty reduction, better maternal health, lower child mortality, greater HIV prevention, and reduced violence against women.
The report shows that cooperation, partnerships, and investments in the gender equality agenda, including through increased global and national funding, are essential to putting gender equality back on track.
Read more and download the report on the UN Women website