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The Progress on SDGs: Gender Snapshot 2022 has been released by the UN Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). The Report presents the latest evidence on gender equality across all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Highlighting the poor progress, the Report has called out the long road ahead to achieve gender equality. The Report further notes that at the current pace of progress, it could take close to 300 years to reach full gender equality. Global problems like the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, violent conflict, climate change, and the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are making gender gaps even worse. It emphasizes the interlinkages among the goals, the pivotal force gender equality plays in driving progress across the SDGs, and women and girls’ central role in leading the way forward.
|Read More: Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals – Explained, pointwise|
What are the findings of the SGD Gender Snapshot Report?
SDG 1 – No Poverty: Extreme poverty is projected to deepen for women and girls globally. COVID-19 has derailed the progress and the share of people living on less than US$ 1.90 a day expected to rise to around 9% in 2022 (8.6% in 2018).
By the end of 2022, around 383 million women and girls will live in extreme poverty compared to 368 million men. In 2022, a projected 938 million women and girls live on less than US$ 3.20 a day and 1.7 billion on less than US$ 5.50 a day.
SDG 2 – Zero Hunger: Conflict, Climate and COVID-19 have converged, posing a triple threat to food security. Economic shocks from COVID-19 and extreme climate events (floods, droughts), have undercut food security in the world . With less access to land, education, information and financial resources, women are most affected by such catastrophes.
Moderate or severe food insecurity among adult women rose during the pandemic rose to 31.9% in 2021 (27.5% in 2019). Among men, it stood at 27.6%. The Gender Gap has increased to 4.3 percentage points (1.8 in 2019). Women in food-insecure households face a higher risk of anaemia. In 2019, 571 million women of reproductive age (15-49) were anaemic, nearly one in three.
SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being: Devastated health systems have left poorer women without care and in worse physical and mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential health services and medical supply chains, and strained financial and human resources. It has drastically impacted women’s access to sexual and reproductive health.
Legal restrictions, including the criminalisation of abortion, continue to compound the challenges women face in accessing safe sexual and reproductive health care. Today, over 1.2 billion women and girls of reproductive age (15-49) live in countries and areas with some restriction on access to safe abortion.
Source: UN Women, Gender Snapshot Report 2022
SDG 4 – Quality Education: For girls, pregnancy, gender-based violence and insecurity compound learning losses due to COVID-19. COVID-19 illnesses and deaths among adult caregivers have resulted in lower educational outcomes; globally, over 5 million children had lost a parent or primary caregiver to COVID-19 as of October 2021.
Each additional year of schooling can boost a girl’s earnings as an adult by up to 20% with further impacts on poverty reduction, better maternal health, lower child mortality, greater HIV prevention and reduced violence against women.
SDG 5 – Gender Equality: The latest available SDG 5 data show that the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. COVID-19 and the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are further diminishing the outlook for gender equality. Violence against women remains high, global health, climate and humanitarian crises have further increased risks of violence, especially for the most vulnerable women and girls, and women feel more unsafe than they did before the pandemic.
In July 2022, women held only 26.4% of Parliamentary Seats globally; in 23 countries, representation was below 10%. At the current pace of progress, parity will not be achieved until 2062. In 2020, women held less than 1 in every 3 managerial positions (28.3%). Women are less likely than men to own a mobile phone in 52 of 80 countries.
Source: UN Women, Gender Snapshot Report 2022
SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation: Mismanagement, pollution and overconsumption have depleted water supplies around the world, elevating water stress to historic levels. More than 733 million people live in a context of high and critical water stress, where demand for safe, usable water outstrips supply.
Unaffordable, inaccessible water has specific implications for women’s health due to increased needs for water and hygiene during menstruation, pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Without safe water, sanitation and hygiene, more than 800,000 women lose their lives every year. Increased disease is apparent in the 44 million pregnant women with sanitation-related hookworm, which causes maternal anaemia and pre-term births. For young girls, water stress can have significant impacts on education.
SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy: In 2020, 733 million people globally lacked access to electricity. An estimated 2.4 billion people had to cook with inefficient and polluting fuels. Clean cooking technologies reduce fuelwood consumption, fuel collection and cooking times, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and carbon monoxide levels.
Electrification can reduce women’s time spent on unpaid domestic work and increase women’s decision-making ability, financial autonomy, reproductive freedom and social participation, often due to increased labour market participation.
SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: Global employment will likely approach pre-pandemic levels in 2022, but the labour market recovery is sluggish and unequal. Women are disproportionately affected, accounting for only 21% of predicted employment gains over 2019-2022 despite being 39.4% of total employment in 2019.
The global gender disparity in hours worked has grown, threatening to widen gender pay inequalities. Women’s overrepresentation in sectors severely impacted by the pandemic and in informal employment explains their greater vulnerability. Disparities are exacerbated by the lack of equal access to maternity benefits, childcare, and parental leave, as well as the unequal distribution of unpaid care work.
|Read More: Female Labour Force in India – Trends and Challenges – Explained, pointwise|
SDG 9 – Industry Innovation and Infrastructure: Discriminatory norms and violence sideline women from fully entering the digital world. Globally, women hold only 2 in every 10 science, engineering and information and communication technology jobs. In the last 10 years, excluding women from the digital world has cut US$ 1 trillion from the GDP of low- and middle-income countries. If nothing is done, this loss will reach US$ 1.5 trillion by 2025.
A study of 51 countries revealed that 38% of women had personally experienced online violence. Only 1 in 4 reported it to the relevant authorities and nearly 9 in 10 opted to limit their online activity, thereby increasing the gender digital divide. Online and ICT-facilitated violence against women increased during the pandemic as women spent more time online.
SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities: The global population of forcibly displaced women and girls has reached record levels. Women and girls on average account for more than half of all internally displaced people (IDPs) globally. Displacement exposes women to greater risks of violence, trafficking and sexual abuse. By the end of 2021, ~44 million women and girls were forcibly displaced, encompassing refugees, asylum seekers, and persons displaced by conflict and violence.
For women, displacement often results in lost property, assets and livelihoods, and worsening health and access to health care.
SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities: In 2020, the majority of the world’s women and girls lived in urban areas (56.2%), a proportion expected to increase to 60.4% by 2030 and 68.4% by 2050. Urban areas offer abundant resources and opportunities but are also sites of huge inequality.
For poor women and girls, including in slum and slum-like settings, adequate housing, water and sanitation are scarce, access to decent health care is deficient, transportation is patchy and decent job opportunities are few and far between.
During the pandemic, urban spaces became even more hostile for women and In a survey of 55 countries, 18% of women said sexual harassment was quite frequent or very frequent in their community, (15% pre-pandemic). Half of women feel unsafe walking alone at night in urban areas, with evidence that violence and harassment escalated during the pandemic.
SDG 12, 13, 14, 15 – Responsible Consumption, Climate Action, Life Below Water, Life on Land: Food security, livelihoods and the well-being of women and girls depend on climate action and a healthy planet. Women, especially those from poor and marginalised communities, are disproportionately affected by climate change and the destruction of the Earth’s natural resources, including its oceans and forests. Their vulnerability stems from their limited access to and control of land and environmental goods, exclusion from decision-making and the higher likelihood of living in poverty.
Women play transformative roles in climate change adaptation and mitigation despite many obstacles. Women and their communities must be engaged in solutions that affect their environment, their livelihoods and their way of life.
SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: To protect human rights, uphold the rule of law and provide redress to victims of abuse and injustice, all public institutions must represent and respond to women and girls. Globally, women make up 46% of the public sector workforce but remain chronically underrepresented in leadership. As of 2017, they held 42% of judicial positions but a mere 16% of police jobs. Women’s representation in public administration in fragile and conflict-affected countries is half the global average. As of July 2022, only 27 countries (14%) have a woman head of State and/or government; in 2021, women held 9% of ministerial positions.
Source: UN Women, Gender Snapshot Report 2022
SDG 17 – Partnerships For The Goals: Inadequate and unpredictable funding for gender equality priorities mars prospects for real change. In 2020, the expected loss in earnings for women around the world owing to the epidemic was US$ 800 billion. Funding remains erratic and insufficient, given the scale of challenges women and girls face.
Official development aid (ODA) was US$ 178.9 billion in grants-equivalent in 2021. Allocations to programmes where gender equality is the main objective constituted only 4.6% of bilateral allocable ODA in 2020. Lack of funding and funding fluctuations impact strategic planning and reduce the likelihood of achieving lasting, transformative change for women and girls.
What should be done going ahead?
First, Governments across the world, must have time-bound action plans to ensure that the goals are achieved.
Second, the Gender Snapshot Report notes that stronger international cooperation, especially to finance gender equality, is imperative to combat multiple, interlinked global crises that put lives and well-being of women at risk.
Third, Long-term structural hurdles to gender equality, such as discriminatory practises, need to be addressed and eliminated in order to make progress toward gender parity.
The Gender Snapshot report has highlighted the slow progress towards achieving the goal of gender parity. Global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, violent conflict and climate change, are further exacerbating gender disparities. Global cooperation and investments in the gender equality agenda, including through increased national funding, are essential to right the course and place SDG 5 back on track.
Syllabus: GS I, Social Empowerment