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This report on gender equality around the world makes for sobering reading

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Hollie Richardson
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Gender inequality

A new report on sexism around the world shows the infuriating reasons why gender equality won’t in achieved by a single country by 2030. 

Following each step made towards gender equality, there always seem to be three leaps back.

Most recently, it was promising to see a record number of women become MEPs. However, take a look around parliament and we see the daily abuse female politicians face because they are women.

Over in the entertainment industry, despite the ongoing power of the #MeToo movement, sexism is still rife. See: Ava DuVernay’s explanation on why Hollywood isn’t asking her to make more movies.

And when it comes to women’s education and salaries in the UK, a gender pay gap report showed that women with post-graduate degrees still earn less than men without one.

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This is why there was much optimism when global gender equality group Equal Measures 2030 was set up in 2016. The group aimed to connect data and evidence with advocacy and action, to help fuel progress towards gender equality. Finally, some concrete action was being taken.

But now, Equal Measures 2030 has released its first report on the progress being made towards gender inequality around the world – and the findings are bleak. They are also an essential wake-up call to the whole world.

The SDG Gender Index, which is the first of its kind, was set up to measure the progress of gender equality around the world. It has found that no country is predicted to meet the set of internationally agreed targets to balance gender equality, end poverty and halt the climate crisis by the 2030 target.

More specifically, it reports that 2.8 billion women and girls are currently living in countries that are not doing enough to improve their lives.

These targets specifically reference gender equality, or touch on issues that have a disproportionate effect on women and girls, such as whether women have access to the internet, mobile banking or a safe water source. Women’s underrepresentation in parliament, the gender pay gap and gender-based abuse and violence are also among the factors all countries are struggling to tackle.

Women's protest
Women’s inequality around the world

Also among these targets, SDG 5 was a specific goal that was set to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It is also meant to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and end female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Alison Holder, director of Equal Measures 2030, said: “I don’t see any countries taking the ambitious action needed to tackle intractable problems – even the best scoring countries.

“I don’t see how naturally these problems will go away. Even among the best scoring countries there are still massive problems.”

To break it down even more, countries with an overall score of 90 or more are making “excellent progress”, while those scoring 59 or less are making “very poor headway” on achieving the goals.

No country hit the 90 mark. The average score for the 129 countries in the index was 65.7. Denmark was the highest scoring country with 89.3, while the UK came 17th with a score of 82.2. Chad had the lowest score of 33.4.

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So, what happens next? The report suggested that more funds need to be allocated to equality programs and improving data.

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is one of the report’s contributors, said the findings should act as a “wake-up call” for policymakers. But she also pointed out the significant progresses being made, especially in developing countries.

“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,” she added. 

Images: Getty

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Hollie Richardson

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