Australia still has work to do on gender equality
3 June 2019 at 4:11 pm
Australia is performing poorly on gender equality issues related to climate action and gender data, according to a global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) index.
The SDG Gender Index, launched on Monday at the 2019 Women Deliver Conference, measures the state of gender equality aligned to the SDGs, examining countries on 51 issues ranging from health to gender-based violence and climate change.
Australia ranked 10th overall in the index (out of 129 countries) and first in the Asia Pacific region, but still performed poorly on many indicators.
Anne Connell, a senior data advisor at Equal Measures 2030 which released the index, told Pro Bono News that Australia scored “poor” on climate change action (SDG 13) and the need for better gender data (SDG 17).
She said the index found that group‐based inequalities were not confined to low and middle‐income countries, with Australia, Canada, and the United States each recording a pay gap between men and women.
“Australia also has failing scores on the indicators related to women’s political participation – [with only] 28.7 per cent [of Parliament being female] and 24 per cent of women in ministerial roles,” Connell said.
Overall, the index found the world was far from achieving gender equality, with 1.4 billion girls and women living in countries that received a “very poor” failing grade on gender equality.
Connell said many countries also received very poor scores on a new generation of gender equality issues related to technology, modernisation and women’s participation.
“The low scores globally suggest that even the countries with high overall scores for gender equality are struggling with thorny issues such as climate change, gender budgeting and public services, equal representation in powerful positions, gender pay gaps, and gender‐based violence,” she said.
Alison Holder, the director of Equal Measures 2030, said this belied world leaders’ pledge to achieve gender equality by 2030.
“With just 11 years to go, our index finds that not a single one of the 129 countries is fully transforming their laws, policies or public budget decisions on the scale needed to reach gender equality by 2030,” Holder said.
“We are failing to deliver on the promises of gender equality for literally billions of girls and women.”
Denmark came out on top of the index, followed closely by Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands.
Unsurprisingly, the 10 countries at the bottom of the index – including Niger, Yemen, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad – all appeared on the OECD’s 2018 list of fragile states.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the index should serve as a wake-up call to the world.
“We won’t meet the SDGs with 40 per cent of girls and women living in countries that are failing on gender equality,” Gates said.
“But the SDG Gender Index also shows that progress is possible.
“Many countries with the most limited resources are making huge strides in removing the barriers for girls and women across economies, politics and society – demonstrating that when it comes to gender equality, governments shouldn’t have excuses for inaction.”