In 2015, in signing onto the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders made a promise to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030. But at this rate, we are nearly 100 years behind schedule.
The latest data from the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take over a century (108 years) to close global gender gaps in health, education, economic opportunity, and political representation. It will take even longer in sub-Saharan Africa – 135 years.
We need to accelerate progress – and 2019 offers us the opportunity to do just that.
What’s needed from world leaders in 2019 to improve the lives of women and girls, and by extension their families, communities, and countries? Here are ONE’s gender equality-focused recommendations for the year:
Recommendation #1: Create a global, independent accountability mechanism, modeled on the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which will track policy change commitments by both governments and private sector actors to promote gender equality.
Part of the reason we’re not moving fast enough in closing gender gaps is because there is a lack of accountability. World leaders must be accountable to meaningfully invest in women and girls.
We need a platform that pushes them to increase ambitions. That platform must also track progress towards concrete, time-bound, measurable outcomes. A new accountability mechanism would provide a space for civil society, governments, and the private sector to discuss, create, and implement commitments collaboratively.
Recommendation #2: Agree to a gender equality financial commitments package. The package must ensure the world is on track to meet critical SDG targets focused on women and girls’ health, education, economic empowerment, and broader well-being.
Additional, targeted financing will be necessary to meet SDG targets related to gender equality across sectors. A gender equality financial commitments package of this kind should focus on breaking the range of barriers facing women and girls and limiting their potential.
Recommendation #3: Allocate at least 85% of overseas development assistance to gender equality. 20% of this should promote gender equality as its primary purpose. At the same time, country governments should adopt gender-responsive budgeting practices.
Outside of a dedicated package of new funds, world leaders must commit to more, as well as better, financing — and do so in a sustained way.
Currently, G7 donors only allocate 49 percent of bilateral aid to programs that focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Of that, just 3.4 percent is principally targeted at closing gender gaps.
Recommendation #4: Commit to progressive laws and policies on gender equality, and develop action plans for implementation under the new OGP-style partnership.
Financing alone won’t be enough to move the needle. It must happen alongside the repeal of discriminatory laws and private sector practices. Gender-responsive laws and policies must be adopted in their place.
To ensure that commitments by countries and the private sector are implemented and impactful, they need to be monitored through an independent and institutionalized accountability mechanism gathering different stakeholders, like the one mentioned above.
In sum, we need world leaders to make ambitious moves to get us on track to achieving global gender equality.