Each additional year of schooling can increase a girl’s future earnings by up to 20 per cent, with further impacts on poverty reduction, better maternal health, lower child mortality, greater HIV prevention and reduced violence against women.The report also highlights a worrisome reversal on poverty reduction, with rising prices set to exacerbate the situation.
‘Reverse this trend’
Although not enough by itself, achieving universal girls’ education would help to boost gender equality.
As a result, countries will not meet SDG5 by the 2030 deadline.
“Cascading global crises are putting the achievement of the SDGs in jeopardy, with the world’s most vulnerable population groups disproportionately impacted, in particular women and girls. Gender equality is a foundation for achieving all SDGs and it should be at the heart of building back better,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, an Assistant Secretary-General at UN DESA.
Meanwhile, to eradicate child marriage by 2030, progress will have to be 17 times faster than in the last decade, as girls from the poorest rural households and in conflict-affected areas are expected to suffer the most.
The Gender Snapshot 2022 report showcases how cooperation, partnerships and investments are essential to put the world back on track.
Most vulnerable affected
The report warns that at the current rate of progress, it will take up to 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws.
By the end of the year, roughly 383 million women and girls will live in extreme poverty, compared to 368 million men and boys. Many more will have insufficient income to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and adequate shelter in most parts of the world.
The report has been released ahead of the Transforming Education Summit, which will be convened on the margins of the UN General Assembly later this month.
Extreme poverty rising
“It is critical that we rally now to invest in women and girls to reclaim and accelerate progress. The data show undeniable regressions in their lives made worse by the global crises – in incomes, safety, education and health. The longer we take to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all”.
Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women or protect their rights in marriage and family may continue to exist for generations to come.
If current trends continue, more women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa will live in extreme poverty by 2030 than today, according to the report.
Other daunting facts from the report reveal that globally, women lost roughly 0 billion in income due to the pandemic. Despite a rebound, women’s participation in the job market is projected to decrease this year to 50.8 per cent, compared to 51.8 per cent in 2021.
The power of education
The invasion of Ukraine in February, and the ongoing war are further worsening food insecurity and hunger, especially among women and children. The war has led to limited supplies of wheat, fertilizer and fuel, while propelling inflation.
“This is a tipping point for women’s rights and gender equality as we approach the half-way mark to 2030,” said Sima Bahous, Executive Director at UN Women.
Furthermore, it will take 140 years for women to achieve equal representation in leadership positions in the workplace, and 40 years for the same to happen in national parliaments.
The study reveals how gender disparities are worsening in the face of “cascading” global crises – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, violent conflict, and climate change – coupled with the backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.