Women's Journal

UN Report Highlights Urgent Need for Gender Equality and Empowerment

Image Commercially Licensed from: DepositPhotos
Image Commercially Licensed from: DepositPhotos

Falling Short of 2030 Goals: A Disturbing Gender Snapshot

New York, 7 September 2023 — Despite concerted global efforts, the world continues to grapple with the challenge of achieving gender equality. The latest edition of the UN Women and UN DESA joint report, titled “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2023,” unveiled today, paints a disconcerting picture at the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Gender Equality Dilemma

“The gender snapshot 2023” issues a stark warning: if current trends persist, over 340 million women and girls, equivalent to approximately 8 percent of the world’s female population, will find themselves living in extreme poverty by 2030. Furthermore, nearly one in four will face moderate to severe food insecurity. The gender gap in power and leadership roles remains deeply entrenched, and if we maintain the current pace of progress, the next generation of women will still spend an average of 2.3 more hours daily on unpaid care and domestic work compared to men.

This annual publication offers an in-depth examination of gender equality across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It sheds light on prevailing trends, gaps, and recent setbacks on the path to achieving gender equality by 2030. This year’s report introduces sex-disaggregated data on the intersection of gender and climate change for the first time, projecting that, under a worst-case climate scenario, climate change could plunge up to 158.3 million more women and girls into poverty, exceeding the corresponding number of men and boys by 16 million.

A Call to Action

Ms. Sarah Hendriks, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, ad interim, emphasized, “In this pivotal midpoint juncture for the SDGs, this year’s report is a resounding call to action. We must take collective and purposeful action now to reshape a world where every woman and girl enjoys equal rights, opportunities, and representation. Achieving this requires unwavering commitment, innovative solutions, and collaboration across all sectors and stakeholders.”

Special Focus on Older Women

This year’s report pays special attention to older women, revealing that they confront higher rates of poverty and violence than older men. Shockingly, in 28 of the 116 countries with data, fewer than half of older women have access to a pension, and in 12 countries, less than 10 percent enjoy this benefit. Progress toward SDG 5, gender equality, is severely off course. The report highlights that the world is falling short for women and girls, with only two Goal 5 indicators nearing the target, and none at the “target met or almost met” level.

“The gender snapshot 2023” underscores the pressing need for tangible efforts to accelerate progress toward gender equality by 2030. It reveals that an additional USD 360 billion per year is imperative to attain gender equality and women’s empowerment across key global goals. The report also calls for an integrated and holistic approach, increased collaboration among stakeholders, sustained funding, and policy actions to rectify gender disparities and empower women and girls worldwide. Failure to prioritize gender equality now could jeopardize the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UN DESA, stated, “Gender equality is not just a goal within the 2030 Agenda; it is the very foundation of a fair society, a goal upon which all other goals must stand. By dismantling the barriers that have hindered the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of society, we unleash the untapped potential that can drive progress and prosperity for all.”

Key Findings in the Report

Under a worst-case climate scenario, food insecurity could impact 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 living in conflict-affected areas has significantly increased, reaching 614 million in 2022, a 50 percent rise from 2017.
Globally, if current progress rates persist, an estimated 110 million girls and young women will be out of school in 2030.
The earnings gap between men and women remains stubbornly high, with women earning only 51 cents for every dollar earned by men in labor income globally. Moreover, only 61.4 percent of prime working-age women are in the labor force, compared to 90 percent of prime working-age men.