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 recently, 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.
“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.”
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.
Close to 10,000 girls and young women between 15 and 24 years were surveyed in 19 countries as part of the research released 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 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.