The first global index measuring the world’s efforts to end gender inequality by 2030 has revealed that none of the countries measured are on track to achieve it.
The first report of its kind, the 2019 SDG Gender Index, explores the state of gender equality across 129 countries – covering 95 percent of the world’s women and girls – based on 14 of the core 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), those that disproportionately affect women.
In 2015, 193 countries unanimously adopted the UN’s sustainable development goals as a blueprint for global efforts to end poverty by 2030. Included in that promise was a pledge to achieve gender equality in that same timeframe. With just 11 years to go, the SDG Gender Index has found that 1.4 billion women and girls – 40 percent of the world’s female population – live in countries that are failing on gender equality. A further 1.4 billion live in countries that “barely pass” the Index’s criteria.
Assessing the state of gender equality in the context of the UN’s SDGs, which include Health, Education, Work & Economic Growth, Industry, Infrastructure & Innovation, Inequalities, Climate, and Partnerships, provides a snapshot of where the world stands right now, and where it needs to improve.
Measuring each country’s progress from zero to 100, the top 10 countries are not surprising. Ranked first was Denmark, followed by Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany, Canada, Ireland, and Australia. Though even these countries have room for improvement, considering 100 means equality has been achieved, and none broke 90.
The UK was ranked 17th out of the 129 countries, while the US was listed 28th, behind Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Bulgaria. The bottom rankings were filled by countries with long histories of lack of infrastructure, political unrest, and poverty, including Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Chad.
The average overall score was 65.7, which indicates that not enough progress has been made since 2015. Data showed the lower scores were within the SDGs that address climate change, gender pay gaps, gender-based violence, funding for women's equality organizations, and equal representation in powerful positions.
Although the Index highlights that there is still a lot of work to be done in a short time to meet the 2030 goal, it provides the most comprehensive tool available to explore the state of gender equality around the world. It provides unprecedented data that will aid governments and gender equality advocates in where and how to make changes.
You can further explore the report’s findings on the Equal Measure 2030 website, as the data is broken down into insightful sections. You can search by region, for example, Europe and North America, or by a specific goal, which will then inform you why that particular goal matters in relation to gender equality. You can even look up each country's score in each category if you want to know how your country fares.
The next Index will be released in 2021, when we will be able to accurately measure the progress made. However, as Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the report's partners, said, this inaugural Index “should serve as a wake-up call to the world.”