“The world is failing women and girls,” UN Women, the agency promoting gender equality, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs said in “The Gender Snapshot 2023” report.
According to the UN’s findings, “active resistance to gender equality and chronic underinvestment are key factors in slow progress and, in some cases, reversals of gains already made”. It said “unequal access to sexual and reproductive health, unequal political representation, economic disparities and a lack of legal protection, among other issues, prevent tangible progress”.
Assistant Secretary General Maria-Francesca Spatolisano told a news conference at the launch of the report, that gender equality was becoming “an ever increasingly distant goal”.
The report, which assesses women’s progress in achieving the 17 UN goals for 2030 on issues ranging from poverty and education to climate change and human rights, paints a grim picture of the gender gap, and the “lacklustre commitment” globally to equality for women.
On a key goal of eradicating extreme poverty, the report said, one in every 10 women today, or 10.3 per cent, lives on less than US$2.15 a day – the extreme poverty level. If current trends continue, it said, 8 per cent of the world’s female population, 342.4 women and girls, will still be living in extreme poverty in 2030, most in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In 2023, up to 129 million girls and young women may be out of school globally,” the report said. “At current rates of progress, an estimated 110 million will remain out of school in 2030.”
As for the goal of decent work, the report said less than two-thirds of women aged 25 to 54 – 61.4 per cent – were in the labour force in 2022 compared to 90.6 per cent of men, and the women were paid far less.
“In 2019, for each dollar men earned in labour income, women earned only 51 US cents,” it said.
In jobs critical to the future in science, technology and innovation, the report said, “ongoing gender barriers limit women’s roles”, which is evident as the field of artificial intelligence takes off.
“In 2022, inventors listed on international patent applications were five times less likely to be female than male,” it said. “In 2020, women held only one in three research positions worldwide and only one in five science, technology, engineering and maths jobs.”
And in getting seats at decision-making tables, the report said, globally women hold only 26.7 per cent of parliamentary seats, 35.5 per cent of local government seats, and only 28.2 per cent of management positions at work.
As for the goal of promoting peace, the report said, conflicts are escalating around the world and “a shocking 614 million women and girls lived in conflict-affected contexts in 2022, 50 per cent higher than in 2017”.
The report by UN Women and ECOSOC warned that the continuing failure to make the achievement of gender equality a priority will put the achievement of all 17 goals “in peril”.
It called funding for programmes promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women “inadequate, unpredictable and inconsistently distributed among countries”, saying between 2020 and 2021 this government aid amounted to “a mere 4 per cent of total bilateral aid, a notable decrease from 5 per cent in previous years”.
The report said an estimated US$6.4 trillion per year is needed across 48 developing countries – covering nearly 70 per cent of the population in developing countries – to achieve gender equality in key areas including ending poverty and hunger and supporting more equal participation of women in society by 2030.
If government expenditures stay on their current trajectory, it said, there will be an annual shortfall of US$360 billion – which the UN is appealing for.