In New York, UN Women released it’s first flagship report today, examining pervasive gender gaps and discrimination globally. The report, “Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” also includes key suggestions on how to shift gears and meet the promises outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Through a gender lens, the report looks at the rate of progress and challenges faced following the implementation of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) first recommended in the 2030 Agenda.
The Agenda outlined goals addressing greater peace, equality, and sustainability but such goals have met fierce obstacles with the rise of global conflict, exclusion and environmental instability As a result, women are experiencing significant hardships across many regions.
For example, the report highlights the following:
1) In 89 countries with available data, women and girls account for 330 million of the poor. This translates to 4 more women living on less than USD 1.90 a day for every 100 men. The gender gap widens further during the reproductive years.
2) More than 50 per cent of urban women and girls in developing countries live in conditions where they lack at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing, and sufficient living area.
3) Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls is a pre-condition for peaceful societies, yet 1 in 5 women under the age of 50 experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the past 12 months.
4) Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. Poor rural women depend on common pool resources and are especially affected by their depletion.
Unsurprisingly, the report showed distinct links between poverty and future wellbeing. A girl born into a poor home for example, is more likely to end up leaving school and marrying early, giving birth prematurely, suffering complications during that birth and experiencing violence.
Race and ethnicity were also shown to be significant determinants to future wellbeing. In the United States for example, poverty rates among black, Native American, and Alaskan Native women more than doubled those of white and Asian women. Moreover, 38 percent of Hispanic women in the poorest bracket did not complete high school, where the national average is just 10 percent.
But, despite these grim statistics, The UN has also implemented an action plan, listing recommendations for how these challenges can be met.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: “As a world, we committed through the SDGs to leave no one behind. This report’s new data and analysis underlines that, unless progress on gender equality is significantly accelerated, the global community will not be able to keep its promise. This is an urgent signal for action, and the report recommends the directions to follow.”
1) Integrated policies that leverage synergies while working toward several goals. Reducing the burden of unpaid care work for women by providing free and universal childcare would assist dramatically. Doing so, would allow women to access employment, create jobs in the social services sector and improve children’s overall health. This policy would have the added bonus of in part, paying for itself through the generation of new jobs and tax revenue.
2) Greater research and statistics to better assess what is happening to women and girls across all 17 SDGs. Six of them have no indicators with explicit mentions of women and girls, and the lack of timely and regular gender data hampers adequate monitoring.
3) Addressing the unrecorded capital flight, including illicit financial flows that developing countries face. Reversing public expenditure cuts that erode safety nets and essential services in both developed and developing countries; and by using all strategies available for raising domestic revenue.
4) Ensuring that those in power are held accountable for gender equality commitments. Indispensable in this effort is a vibrant civil society with space to express itself.