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UN report reveals global failure to support girls and women

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Despite global efforts, achieving gender equality by 2030, as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is slipping further from grasp, according to the latest edition of the UN Women and UN DESA report, titled “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The Gender Snapshot 2023.” This report, released today, presents a troubling assessment of the progress made halfway through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

A grim picture

The “Gender Snapshot 2023” issues a stark warning: If current trends persist, over 340 million women and girls, equivalent to 8 percent of the world’s female population, will be living in extreme poverty by 2030. Additionally, nearly one in four will face moderate or severe food insecurity. The gender disparity in power and leadership roles remains deeply entrenched. At the current rate of progress, the next generation of women will still spend an average of 2.3 more hours per day on unpaid care and domestic work compared to men.

This annual report provides a comprehensive assessment of gender equality across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shedding light on prevailing trends, disparities, and recent setbacks in the journey toward gender equality. This year’s report introduces sex-disaggregated data on the intersection of gender and climate change, projecting that by mid-century, under a worst-case climate scenario, climate change could drive up to 158.3 million more women and girls into poverty—16 million more than men and boys combined.

Call for Collective & Intentional Action

Ms. Sarah Hendriks, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, ad interim, emphasized the report’s call to action, stating that collective and intentional action is needed to correct course and create a world where every woman and girl enjoys equal rights, opportunities, and representation. Achieving this requires unwavering commitment, innovative solutions, and collaboration across sectors and stakeholders.

The report also spotlights the challenges faced by older women, revealing that they experience higher rates of poverty and violence compared to older men. In 28 of the 116 countries with available data, less than half of older women have access to pensions, with 12 countries reporting less than 10 percent pension coverage for older women.

Progress toward SDG 5—gender equality—is significantly off-track halfway to the 2030 target. The report shows that the world is falling short in achieving gender equality, with only two Goal 5 indicators considered “close to target,” and none at the “target met or almost met” level.

“The Gender Snapshot 2023” underscores the urgent need for concrete efforts to accelerate progress toward gender equality by 2030. It reveals that an additional USD 360 billion per year is required to achieve gender equality and empower women across key global goals. The report calls for an integrated and holistic approach, increased collaboration among stakeholders, sustained funding, and policy actions to address gender disparities and empower women and girls worldwide. Failing to prioritize gender equality now risks jeopardizing the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UN DESA, emphasized that gender equality is not just a goal within the 2030 Agenda; it is the foundation of a fair society and a goal upon which all others must stand. Breaking down barriers hindering the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of society unleashes untapped potential that can drive progress and prosperity for all.

Additional key points highlighted in the report include:

  • Under a worst-case climate scenario, food insecurity may affect up to 236 million more women and girls compared to 131 million more men and boys due to climate change.
  • No country is on track to eliminate intimate partner violence, and only 27 countries have comprehensive systems for tracking and allocating budgets for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • The number of women and girls in conflict-affected areas has significantly increased, with catastrophic consequences. In 2022, the number reached 614 million, a 50 percent increase from 2017.
  • Globally, at current rates of progress, an estimated 110 million girls and young women will be out of school in 2030.
  • The gender pay gap and earnings disparity persist, with women earning just 51 cents for every dollar earned by men in labor income globally. Only 61.4 percent of prime working-age women are in the labor force, compared to 90 percent of prime working-age men.

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