There isn’t a single country on track to make the UN’s targets for gender equality

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Charlotte Edmond, Formative Content

There isn’t a country in the world that’s currently set to achieve gender equality by the UN’s target of 2030.

Not a single nation is doing enough to improve the lives of women and girls – one of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which countries have pledged to meet by 2030 – according to the first index created to track progress towards the goal.

The SDG Gender Index finds huge strides still need to be made, with nowhere in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, or Latin America and the Caribbean scoring a ‘good’ rating.

Image: Equal Measures 2030

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and one of the partners behind Equal Measures 2030, which created the index, said the results should “serve as a wake-up call to the world”.

The index measures 129 countries on a scale of zero equality to 100, where equality has been met. The countries were marked against targets in the SDGs that particularly affect women, such as access to safe water or the internet.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

A score of 90 or above means a country is making excellent progress in achieving the goals; 59 or less and it is considered to be making poor headway. The top-performing country was Denmark, with a score of just under 90. Only 20 other countries were ranked as good: Europe and North America dominate this top tier.


At the other end of the scale, the largest contingent of bottom-ranked countries is in sub-Saharan Africa. Chad is the worst-performing country. The bottom 10 nations all also appear in the OECD’s 2018 list of fragile states – those afflicted by major challenges such as conflict, violent extremism or famine.

The average score of all countries is 65.7, equating to poor in the index.

Image: Equal Measures 2030

In general, higher income countries are performing better against gender targets than poorer ones, but this is not always the case.

Greece, Malawi and Vietnam are among those performing better than you might expect given their GDP per capita, whereas countries including Malaysia, Russia and the United States are doing worse than their incomes would suggest.

Among the areas countries are most struggling with are female issues linked to climate change, equality in industry and innovation, and public finance.

And worryingly, almost half the countries in the index are failing on SDG 5 – the standalone goal relating to gender equality. This includes targets to combat sexual violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.

The findings reflect The World Economic Forum’s own Global Gender Gap report,which shows that at the current rate of change the global gender gap will take 108 years to close. In 2018, women’s access to health and education and political empowerment all saw the gender gap increase.

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