Gender equality targets won't be met by 2030: study

Friday March 06 2020

2.1 billion girls and women live in countries that won’t achieve gender equality targets by 2030 at current pace. ILLUSTRATION/NATION


A recently released report shows that 2.1 billion girls and women live in countries that won’t achieve gender equality targets by 2030 at current pace.

This is according to the ‘Bending the Curve Towards Gender Equality by 2030’ report released by the Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030) partnership.

It shows that 67 out of the 129 countries will not have access to contraception, girls’ education, political leadership, workplace equality laws, and safety.

Commenting on the report, Director of Equal Measures 2030 Alison Holder said, “Far too many countries have been stagnating or even backtracking on vital issues that affect the lives and futures of billions of girls and women, such as whether they finish school or if they have equal rights at work. Globally, progress towards gender equality is limping along.”

Looking at past progress on the five issues studied, the research found that access to contraception has moved slowly at the global level over the past two decades and several countries have moved in the wrong direction, more girls are completing secondary school than ever before and that women’s representation in powerful government positions has improved globally in recent decades.

Additionally, many countries have made improvements in their workplace equality laws, but only 36 of the countries received a top score.


However, nearly half of women globally don’t feel safe walking in their area at night and this figure has barely changed since 2006.

“This report shines a light on how little improvement we’ve seen on fundamental issues like whether women feel safe walking in their own neighbourhood at night, which has barely changed or even worsened in the last decade,” said Sivananthi Thanenthiran, Executive Director of the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW).

“Women’s safety directly impacts on all aspects of their lives – from their own education and that of their children, to which jobs they pursue, and their social mobility,” she added.

 CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Mark Suzman insisted that the cause of gender equality should be taken up with more urgency.

“The takeaway from this report is clear: At the current pace of progress, none of us will live to see a world where men and women are truly equal,” she said.

But despite these low reports, the research also showed countries that that made rapid progress on the five issues.


In Ghana, the percentage of girls who completed secondary school grew from just 5 per cent in 2003 to over 40 per cent 12 years later. Access to contraception in Rwanda moved from covering 12 per cent of girls and women in 2000 to 69 per cent in 2018.

Several countries have also made very fast progress on having women represented in Cabinet positions, including Uruguay which went from zero women Ministers to 42 per cent in less than 15 years, Canada which went from 30 per cent to parity in four years, and Ethiopia which went from 10 per cent to 48 per cent women in just one year.

In conclusion, if all countries matched the pace of fast-moving countries over the next decade, nearly three quarters of the world’s girls’ and women could instead live in countries that would reach four or even all five of these gender equality targets by the year 2030.

 “What this research shows is that rapid change on gender equality is possible. Of course, every context is different and there is no single recipe. But, by making concrete changes in laws, policies and budget decisions, governments and other champions can drive real change for girls and women,” concluded Holder.

Françoise Girard, President of the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) delivered a call to action in reaction to the research findings.

She said, “Twenty-five years ago, governments committed to achieve gender equality. This report shows that they need to do much more to live up to their promise. More than that, it highlights the opportunity before us. With political will, financial resources, and the power of the feminist movement, our vision for Generation Equality can be realized. We call on world leaders to prioritize equality, and to work with feminists globally to accelerate progress.”

The EM2030 is a unique cross-sector partnership of leading organizations from civil society and the development and private sectors that connects data and evidence with advocacy and action—using existing gender equality related data, supporting calls to fill data gaps, and training and equipping advocates to use data and evidence in their efforts to reach the transformational agenda of the SDGs by 2030.

Partners include the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Comité de América Latina y El Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (CLADEM), Data2X, the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), KPMG International, ONE Campaign, Plan International, and Women Deliver.