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Report on UK gender equality: improvement needed


the SDG Gender Index, Women Deliver Conference 2019, Equal Measures 2030, Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, 14 SDGs, 51 gender equality issues, reportThe case for investing in the rights and advancement of girls and women is clear.

A 2019 Global Report “Harnessing the power of data for gender equality: Introducing the 2019 EM2030 SDG Gender Index” has been launched at the ongoing Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, Canada.

The 2019 SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Gender Index found that, with just 11 years to go until 2030, nearly 40 per cent of the world’s girls and women – 1.4 billion – currently live in countries failing on gender equality.

And another 1.4 billion live in countries that “barely pass”.

Even the countries that scored the highest points on the index have more to do, particularly on complex issues such as climate change, gender budgeting and public services, equal representation in powerful positions, gender pay gaps and gender-based violence.

The index is now the most comprehensive tool available for exploring the state of gender equality in the 129 countries that signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals – 95 per cent of the world’s girls and women – as it covers 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 51 targets linked to issues inherent in the SDGs.

Each goal in the index is covered by three to five indicators. The indicators are both those that are gender-specific and those that are not, but nonetheless have a disproportionate effect on girls and women.

Overall, the index found that 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 the standalone “gender equality” goal (SDG 5). Still.

The UK is ranked 17.

The index outlines areas for improvement for the 20 top scoring countries.

These indicators have some of the lowest scores for the 20 top scoring countries – starting with the lowest average score for the top 20 countries:

13b: Extent to which a country is committed to disaster risk reduction;

17b: Tax revenue as a percentage of GDP;

17d: Openness of gender statistics;

8a: Wage equality between women and men for similar work;

16c: Percentage of seats held by women on a country’s Supreme Court or highest court;

13c: Level of climate vulnerability;

5d: Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments;

9d: Proportion of women in science and technology research positions;

9b: Proportion of women who report being satisfied with the quality of roads in the city or area where they live;

17a: Social expenditure as a percentage of GDP;

17c: Extent to which a national budget is broken down by factors such as gender, age, income, or region;

5e: Proportion of ministerial/senior government positions held by women;

11c: Percentage of women aged 15+ who report that they “feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live”.

The low scores suggest that even the countries with high overall scores for gender equality are struggling with thorny issues such as climate change, gender budgeting and public services, equal representation in powerful positions, gender pay gaps, and gender‑based violence.

It also has recommendations for action that should be taken to improve the situation:

1 – Commit to taking steps that will ensure the world is moving in the right direction on gender equality before the next iteration of the SDG Gender Index is released in 2021.

The case for investing in the rights and advancement of girls and women is clear, but must continue to be strengthened and amplified.

2 – Dedicate effective and quality funding and support for fragile, conflict‑ and crisis‑affected countries facing the greatest gender equality challenges.

This will require recognising that girls and women are agents of change, as well as deliberate efforts to understand the underlying power relations and barriers to gender equality in the most challenging contexts.

3 – Ensure an evidence-based, coordinated, and concerted policy focus on – and funding for – gender equality issues on which the world is falling behind.

This concerns issues around the “means of implementation”, including public finance, open budgets and open data (SDG 17); climate change (SDG 13); gender equality in industry and innovation (SDG 9); as well as the standalone “gender equality” goal (SDG 5).

4 – Improve the quality, relevance, and use of data and statistics, consistent with human rights norms and principles.

This includes qualitative and quantitative data. Only girls and women themselves – especially those in the most marginalised communities and vulnerable groups – can tell us about their lived realities and what needs to happen to reach equality. Advocates must ensure that their voices and stories are being heard.

5 – Prioritise funding and support for girls’ and women’s movements, advocates and champions from across sectors and at every level, from political leaders, to girl- and women-led movements in the smallest villages. Support capacity to use data such as the SDG Gender Index, alongside other national, sub-national, and locally generated data.

The index will be updated in 2021 and at regular intervals until the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals deadline.

Data are drawn from UN agencies, the World Bank, NGOs, thinktanks and from the consultancy firm Gallup.

To read the full report, click here.

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