Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Significant gaps in Women's Empowerment

New UN Women report uncovers significant gaps for women's empowerment and puts forth robust agenda to shift gears

Spotlights inequalities and challenges faced by women; identifies gaps and opportunities for gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

New York-UN Women today launched its flagship report, "Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". The report demonstrates through concrete evidence and data the pervasive nature of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, and puts forth actionable recommendations on how to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Two and a half years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, this first-of-its-kind report examines through a gender lens the progress and challenges in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda's focus on peace, equality and sustainability provides a powerful counter-narrative to the current rise of conflict, exclusion and environmental degradation. Yet, women are up against an unprecedented set of challenges in all these areas, and urgent action is needed to address them.

For instance, new analysis from the report shows that:

  • In 89 countries with available data, women and girls account for 330 million of the poor. This translates to 4 more women living on less than USD 1.90 a day for every 100 men. The gender gap is particularly wide during the reproductive years.
  • More than 50 per cent of urban women and girls in developing countries live in conditions where they lack at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing, and sufficient living area.
  • Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls is a pre-condition for peaceful societies, yet 1 in 5 women under the age of 50 experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the past 12 months.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas. Poor rural women depend on common pool resources and are especially affected by their depletion.

Presenting the report, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said: "As a world, we committed through the SDGs to leave no one behind. This report's new data and analysis underlines that, unless progress on gender equality is significantly accelerated, the global community will not be able to keep its promise. This is an urgent signal for action, and the report recommends the directions to follow."

The report highlights how, in the lives of women and girls, different dimensions of well-being and deprivation are deeply intertwined: a girl who is born into a poor household and forced into early marriage, for example, is more likely to drop out of school, give birth at an early age, suffer complications during childbirth, and experience violence-all SDGs targets-than a girl from a higher-income household who marries at a later age.

The report also looks beyond national averages to uncover the yawning gaps between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living worlds apart because of their income status, race/ethnicity, or where they live. In the United States, poverty rates among black, Native American, and Alaskan Native women more than double those of white and Asian women, with disparities in education also staggering. Thirty-eight per cent of Hispanic women in the poorest quintile did not complete high school, compared to a national average of 10 per cent. Other case studies and data sets from the report take an in-depth look at the situation in Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uruguay.

The report also provides wide-ranging recommendations for change, highlighting four key areas of action:

  • Integrated policies that can leverage synergies and help achieve several goals at the same time. Achieving gender equality is not only an important goal in and of itself, but also a catalyst for achieving the 2030 Agenda and a sustainable future for all. For instance, the report shows that reducing the burden of unpaid care work for women by providing free and universal child care would allow them to access employment opportunities, create decent jobs in the social services sector, and improve children's health and nutritional outcomes. And, as simulations for South Africa and Uruguay show, the investment would at least in part pay for itself by generating new jobs and additional tax revenue.
  • More and better statistics. Currently, we cannot actually assess what is happening to women and girls across all 17 SDGs. Six of them have no indicators with explicit mentions of women and girls, and the lack of timely and regular gender data hampers adequate monitoring.
  • The financing gap to achieve a sustainable world can in fact be closed, by addressing the unrecorded capital flight, including illicit financial flows that developing countries face; by reversing the public expenditure cuts that erode safety nets and essential services in both developed and developing countries; and by using all strategies available for raising domestic revenue.
  • Ensuring that those in power are held accountable for gender equality commitments.  Indispensable in this effort is a vibrant civil society with space to express itself.

UN Women


Once again we see women taking the blunt end of the stick, once again we see women and girls paying a higher price than their male peers to garner the same rights and conditions just because at birth they are female. In 2018 we do not live in an egalitarian world, the things are stacked up against women from birth against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The idea was that we all had the same birthrights, period. So you are a male or a female or a transsexual or what, born of one side of a frontier or another, on on the frontier itself, whether you are black or pink or violet or blue, whatever your sexuality...we were all supposed to have the same rights.

Try entering Singapore with a Brazilian passport. Hey do you have a yellow fever vaccination bulletin? Suppose the same person has a Portuguese passport. Does (s)he need the same bulletin?

Case closed.

Photo: By Amanda Lucidon, Official White House Photo - Flickr, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65637832

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


Twitter: @TimothyBHinchey


*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.


The low blow as a rule: between the Atlantic and Russia there is no more room for diplomacy
Six reasons why Putin's victory has frightened the West
Russia and USA start new arms race in space to down satellites
Russia and USA start new arms race in space to down satellites
Very unexpectedly, Trump sends warmest congratulations to Putin
Trump wants Saudi Arabia to flood Russia with oil
Looks like UK wants to start Cold War with Russia first
Very unexpectedly, Trump sends warmest congratulations to Putin
Very unexpectedly, Trump sends warmest congratulations to Putin
C.I.A. Increases Drug Smuggling in Afghanistan To Fund Proxies All Over the World
Six reasons why Putin's victory has frightened the West
The low blow as a rule: between the Atlantic and Russia there is no more room for diplomacy
The low blow as a rule: between the Atlantic and Russia there is no more room for diplomacy
Will Russia 'go away and shut up' as London suggests?
The United Sanctions of America makes first-ever use of CAATSA law against Russia
Looks like UK wants to start Cold War with Russia first
Ukraine to recognise Putin's victory illegitimate
USA's debt sets absolute record
Moscow wants apologies from London
Russian opposition smacked down, needs USA's helping hand
The low blow as a rule: between the Atlantic and Russia there is no more room for diplomacy