What does the future hold for women under Guatemala’s new government?

Written by Ester Pinheiro, Communications Officer, Equal Measures 2030

Governments in Central America have not always been at the forefront of promoting institutional policy changes to address gender inequalities. One of the main reasons is the lack of female representation in politics in some countries in the region and the lack of progressive parties not associated with corruption that advance the rights agenda. However, Guatemala inaugurated its new president on January 15th 2023, with a gender-equal cabinet and a promise to fight corruption. What could this new government hold for women and girls in Guatemala?

Guatemala’s presidential elections in 2023 sought a different government that could change the reality of kleptocracy and violence that suffocates women and girls. Bernardo Arevalo of the progressive social democratic Movimiento Semilla party managed to get enough votes to compete for the country’s presidency against Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope, and thus go all the way to the second round on the 20th of August, winning with more than 60% of the almost 4 million electoral votes.

Is more women in politics always a solution? 

The proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments in Latin America is considered “very low”, according to the 2022 SDG Gender Index. Guatemala scores 21 points below the already very low average for the region. But being a woman does not necessarily make you a progressive candidate, as is the case with Sandra Torres in Guatemala, explains Marisa Miodosky, Senior Consultant for Latin America at Equal Measures 2030.

The presence of these women with a reactionary agenda does not guarantee the struggle and protection of rights for gender equality and women’s autonomy. Many of the women who reach positions of power representing right-wing or far-right parties subscribe to an anti-feminist and anti-rights discourse in relation to abortion, immigration and LGBTQIA+ issues.

This is a global reality with examples such as Nikki Haley, potential presidential candidate of the Republican party in the US, Marine le Pen in France, Giorgia Meloni, Italian prime minister and Keiko Fujimori in her bid for the presidency in Peru. In the UK, some of the most aggressive anti-immigration politics have been voiced by women of color such as Priti Patel, Suella Braverman and Kemi Badenoch, a black woman who has called herself an anti-woke culture warrior.

In Argentina, the recently elected Milei government, with a ⅓ of women in the cabinet, did not hesitate to dismantle the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity and send to congress a compendium of laws that seek to change the rules of cohabitation in Argentina with serious effects on the care system and electoral parity, among others. “While some of their legislators are against laws that prevent and punish different types of violence such as street harassment,” says Marisa.

On the contrary, there is a pressing need for a government crafted by and tailored to the diverse experiences of women, facilitating their democratic representation. Unfortunately, this was not the case for the candidate Maya Mam Thelma Cabrera, whose expertise and experience lies in the Indigenous context. Thelma, along with her former deputy, the human rights ombudsman Jordán Rodas, ran under the banner of the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples (MLP), an Indigenous party with a substantial departmental structure, but were unable to participate.

“Thelma is a community leader with a great deal of influence gained collectively, not just personally and egocentrically like others,” says Ángela Chiquin Chitay, a young indigenous Guatemalan founder of the Kemok organization. According to her, Thelma has been able to manage her resources despite not having the same privileges as others. “She was not self-proclaimed; it was the deputies and mayoral candidates with a registered committee who chose her to participate and represent the political tool.”

Corruption and the rights agenda 

With politics marked by a ‘corrupt pact’ (‘pacto de corruptos’ as it is popularly known in Guatemala for the alliance between judges, congressmen, businessmen and different actors who co-opt and plunder the state), it is difficult to guarantee the rights of the population, especially the rights of women and girls. 

Danessa Luna, Guatemalan activist and women’s human rights defender at Asogen, one of our coalition members, shares that the corrupt pact has tried to put an end to the advances in women’s rights, particularly to put an end to the institutional framework for women that has taken 30 years to build, and to tear back progress made on important issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights.

There is an institutional crisis in Guatemala with a traditional-conservative positioning that has co-opted the institutions, mainly the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) and other autonomous institutions that are key to the functioning of the rule of law, such as the University of San Carlos, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, the Constitutional Court, the Bar Association, among others.

The kleptocracy in the state threatens years of looting in the country, corruption and impunity, as well as drug trafficking, which also weakens democracy, institutions and women’s rights. “There are politicians involved in drug trafficking and control of the drugs that pass through Guatemala, and this is also a powerful reason why many of them want things to continue as they have been,” says Danessa. This system also establishes a regime of persecution of any student, gender equality advocate, judge, prosecutor or journalist who denounces illegalities and gender-based violence.

Will Semilla take power in Guatemala?

Fearing the loss of government power and the whimsical management of the treasury, the “pact of the corrupt” led the political system in Guatemala to reject the participation of opponents who might risk their interests and allow the candidacy of other political actors with serious accusations.

This same pact led to an attempted coup d’état in Guatemala in December last year and this year as Arevalo tried to enter office. The country’s Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) asked to declare the electoral results null and void. However, the Superior Electoral Tribunal clarified that the elections will not be repeated. Even the OAS has condemned the coup attempt in Guatemala. This was all due to the “Corrupción Semilla” case being investigated by the winning party along with new requests for impeachment against president-elect Bernardo Arevalo and Movimiento Semilla deputies Ligia Hernández and Samuel Pérez.

They want to impose for the public record that there was fraud, that Semilla is an illegally formed party and that the MP’s actions are to “guarantee the citizen’s vote”. However, for Danessa, there was no fraud, but rather that the population is more informed and critical of the flow of information. “They have interfered with the wrong generation”. For the gender leader, President-elect Bernardo Arevalo, did a good job with the population, “above all a painstaking task, sharing his anti-corruption, anti-impunity approach to tackle what has left the population without health, without education, without security, without anything”.

What is expected from Bernardo Arevalo’s government? 

Feminists and women’s organizations view the Movimiento Semilla as positive and hopeful.

For girls and women, it is hoped that there will come times of respect for their rights, of having a more equitable government that has thought about their rights, such as access to justice, education, health and other specific rights. It is hoped that there will be greater possibilities to negotiate, to dialogue and to have the possibility of governing together, to be heard and to be visible.

Equal Pay Day is still needed, here’s why! 

Do we really need an Equal Pay Day? Things are getting better, aren’t they? Despite progress in some countries, the gender pay gap still persists.  

Written by Charlotte Minvielle, Head of Business Development and Gabrielle Leite, Gender Data & Insights Analyst 

Across the globe, women are paid an estimated 20% less than men. This injustice is brought to attention each year on International Equal Pay Day, designated by the European Commission as November 15th  this year. This date symbolizes the extra time women on average must work to catch up with men’s earnings of the previous year, or in other words, the point in the year when women start working for free. Since the gender pay gap varies significantly from country to country, so does the designation of Equal Pay Day.  

The global picture  

Globally, very little progress has been seen in the reduction of the gender pay gap. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2023, which covers 146 countries, the overall score changed from 68.1% to 68.4%, a meager improvement of just 0.3 percentage points compared to 2022. The countries with the greatest increase were Liberia with a score increase of 5.1%, Estonia with +4.8% and Bhutan with +4.5%.  

Equal Measures 2030’s SDG Gender Index also shows us that globally, wage equality between men and women for similar work stagnated between 2016 and 2020. Among 128 countries with available data, just 45 were making fast progress, while 19 countries made some progress, and 16 showed no progress. Alarmingly, 48 countries have declined, with the 3 largest decreases coming from Sub-Saharan countries: South Africa with -14.6, Mauritania with -12, and DR Congo with -10.7.  

Addressing social norms  

This year, the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Claudia Goldin, recognizing her ground-breaking work in demystifying the root causes of the gender pay gap. Goldin highlights how gender disparities in earning in the past could primarily be explained by educational attainment and occupation choices. However, today the earnings gap for women and men in identical position widens most when women give birth to their first child.  

A UN Women and ILO study also found that childbearing, more than marriage, affects labour force participation. Women are more likely to be outside the labour force when they marry and have children, especially young children. This is much more pronounced when they have at least one child under 6, underscoring the pivotal role of unpaid caregiving and household labour divisions. 

Women on average carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men. Gender stereotypes and social norms often trap women in low-skilled, low-paying jobs. To move towards equal pay, we must address the routine devaluation of women’s work, particularly in professions predominantly occupied by women such as nursing, elder care and education. 

Truly eradicating the pay gap though, demands a multifaceted and intersectional approach, acknowledging that women of color, women with disabilities, lesbian, and trans women face additional and unique barriers to equality in the workplace. In 2020, Black women in the United States were paid a mere 58% of what non-Hispanic white men received. Addressing these systemic inequalities is essential to close the gender pay gap.  

Legislation for systems change 

According to an internal report by HP quoted in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, women applied for roles only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications listed for the job, while men applied if they thought they could meet 60% of the job requirements. Previous studies (and public opinion) have also suggested that men are often better at asking for salary increases.

However, recent research has highlighted that women often do ask just as frequently, they just don’t receive as frequently. Concerningly, studies have also shown that when people believe that women negotiate less, they are less inclined to support policies to reduce the gender pay gap. The onus for workplace equality cannot be laid on individual employees and the confidence to negotiate salaries; it requires systemic transformation.  

The ILO found that pay transparency measures can be a powerful tool in exposing pay differences between men and women and identifying the underlying causes. They can provide workers with the information and evidence required to negotiate salaries and the means to challenge potential pay discrimination.  

In 2022, the European Parliament made a landmark decision, mandating all European companies to disclose potential gender pay gaps. While transparency is an important step in the right direction, it can fall short without robust enforcement mechanisms to support it. 

Transparency measures have been found to be more effective in countries with higher rates of unionization. In Belgium, where almost half the workforce belongs to a trade union, the gender pay gap halved, from 10% in 2010 to 5% in 2021, as a result of collective bargaining and transparency measures. In contrast, the pay gap in the UK, where a quarter of workers belong to a union, stands at 9.4%; in the US, where about 1 in 10 workers are unionized, it’s 16.3%.  

In many countries, companies are obliged to publish their gender pay gaps every year but don’t face any consequences if they don’t reduce it. That’s why legislation around enforcement is needed.  

Iceland was the first country in the world to introduce a policy in 2018 that requires companies and institutions with more than 25 employees to prove that they pay men and women equally for a job of equal value, shifting the burden of proof to the employer. Those failing to comply incur a daily fine of $500. The pioneering measure has contributed to the country halving its gender pay gap in the past decade.  

Equal pay is not merely a workplace issue – it’s a societal imperative and demands systemic action. Feminist movements, labour unions, employers, policymakers and society at large all share a collective responsibility to dismantle the barriers to gender equality in the workplace and close the gap by 2030.   


How can the G20 agenda help advance and accelerate progress on gender equality? 

By SAHAJ (Society for Health Alternatives) and Aarushi Khanna, Asia Pacific Regional Lead, Equal Measures 2030

Leaders from G20 countries- the world’s major economies- are gathering in Delhi, India on the 9th and 10th of September for an annual summit to discuss strategies to enhance their country’s GDP growth towards a more robust economy. Climate growth, women’s leadership, education policies and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are all set to feature highly on the summit’s agenda, and India, the president for this year, aims to bring in conversations around diversity and inclusive growth.  

Almost 60% of world’s population resides in the G20 countries, half of which are women. The G20 members made their commitment to gender equality back in 2012 in the Los Cabos Declaration where gender equality was recognized as a core development objective central to achieving economic growth and resilience. A decade later, at the midpoint of the SDGs, progress on gender equality across the goals has been slow and marginal at best.  

As of 2020, none of the G20 countries have achieved gender equality across the SDGs and at the current pace it will take over 85 years for the world to deliver on these rights according to the EM2030 SDG Gender Index.  

Whilst many of the G20 members have achieved high scores on the Index, we’ve also witnessed stagnation and even the backsliding of progress. The United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Argentina have all seen progress stagnate and regress slightly when it comes to ending hunger (SDG2) and improving health (SDG3).  

When we look at the 19 country members of the G20, only 3 were making ‘fast progress’ between 2015 and 2020, and these 3 countries all began from ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ score starting points. Moreover, a majority of the 19 countries scored ‘poorly’ in 2020- a clear indication that these countries have plenty to do when it comes to approaching sustainable development in a gender-equal way.  

We sat down with Sahaj, our partner in India, to reflect on what this gender-equal approach could look like, why gender equality must be a pivotal focus of G20 processes, and the role India plays as the current president.  

How can the G20 agenda help advance and accelerate progress on gender equality?  

G20 countries should resolve to emerge as a platform for making concrete policy commitments to reduce the gender gaps in education, health and other economic, social and cultural rights. When we say ‘gender’, we are referring to gender as a non-binary concept as well as a recognition of the intersectional perspective on gender.  

Opportunities for advancing gender equality in education include promoting STEM education for girls and women in all their diversity to equip them for better job opportunities. Providing access to financial services, entrepreneurship support and vocational training are key to accelerating women’s economic empowerment. These measures are critical for inclusive economic growth.  

Violation of sexual and reproductive rights is a widespread phenomenon. G20 countries should resolve to uphold these rights and to ensure access to comprehensive healthcare with a special emphasis on services like safe abortion, access to contraception, and comprehensive sexuality education.  

Gender based violence impacts women’s and trans persons’ physical as well as mental health, thus G20 countries should ensure enforcement of the laws to protect related rights (bodily integrity, freedom from violence and suchlike) and establish support systems for survivors of violence.  

If you had the chance to speak directly to a G20 leader and deliver a message to them, what would you say?   

Gender equality is central to the development agenda. Women’s empowerment is essential for inclusive economic growth. As women’s rights advocates, we would recommend enacting policies to ensure equal opportunities for persons along the gender continuum, so that each person gets an opportunity to express their full potential.  

We would advocate for the dismantling of barriers to accessing education and opportunities to participate in the labor force, including at the highest levels, and to secure hassle-free credit facilities for women and trans entrepreneurs. Lastly, we would urge for the prioritization of adequate budgetary allocations for furthering the gender equality agenda needs.  

What can the Indian government do to advance the gender equality agenda in G20 processes? 

For advancing gender equality within G20 agenda, the Indian Government needs to adopt a multipronged approach. First and foremost, the G20 policy recommendations should be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals’ Framework to bring synergy between the two. The Government of India should emphasize a common indicators’ framework for monitoring the progress of gender equality across G20 member countries.  

The Government must also demonstrate the importance of gender equality by including women in G20 leadership roles, including participation in decision-making processes and by promoting the inclusion of diverse women’s voices through civil society consultations. Beyond this, there is a need to create platforms and set up processes for evidence building for issues like Gender Based Violence, low participation of women in the labor force and such. This could be achieved by collating best practices to address these gender discriminatory practices which are prevalent in several G20 countries.  

The summit comes at a critical juncture for the feminist movement in India. We look forward to the outcome of the summit and hope that the power and urgency of action on gender equality shines through in the discussions. Stay tuned for part 2 to this blog where we’ll reflect on the outcomes of the Summit and its implications for gender equality programming in India and other G20 countries. 

W7 Takeover: What commitments would G7 Leaders make if gender equality advocates had their say?

G7 Leaders are about to meet in Hiroshima, Japan for the annual G7 Summit.  As the EM2030 Index data shows, the G7 countries have much more to do to close gender gaps at home.  In recent years, not one of the G7 countries made “fast progress” on gender equality, and three of them (the UK, Germany, and Japan) made “no progress” at all.  

EM2030 SDG Gender Index – Levels of gender equality & pace of progress in G7 countries

We know that gender equal countries are healthier, better educated and safer and also more peaceful.  So surely the G7 countries will have gender equality, and how to accelerate progress for girls and women, at the top of the agenda for their Leaders Summit.  Don’t count on it.  

Where’s a G7 gender equality champion to turn?  Thankfully, we have a group of assembled experts on gender equality – the Women 7 Advisors – who are ready with the (evidence-based) solutions that G7 Leaders seem to so lack.  The W7 are a grouping of civil society leaders, advocates, and activists who aim to influence the G7 countries to take greater action on gender equality both at home and in their international commitments.  

EM2030 has been proud to be part of the collaborative process of working with other W7 Advisers around the world, convened by a highly effective team of Japan-based civil society leaders (hosted by the Gender Unit of SDGs Japan), to produce our own W7 Communique, outlining what G7 Leaders really need to do to promote gender equality globally. 

Ahead of the G7 Leaders Summit this week, EM2030 sat down with some of the brilliant W7 Advisers and asked them if THEY were holding the pen on the G7 Leaders Communique, what commitments would they make to create a more gender-equal world?  

Esther Mwaura-Muiru – Global Advocacy Director, Stand for Her Land Campaign, a global initiative hosted by Landesa 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… actualize gender equality in all sectors by 2030, commensurate to our power as global political and economic giants. We have ample resources and the right infrastructure for meaningful progress. What we need to exercise is political will, which is invested in us as leaders. Until every woman and girl in our society is emancipated from all forms of injustices, we lack the foundation for sustainable, inclusive economies. Furthermore, we accept accountability and seek to atone for our own actions (past and current) that have perpetuated injustices against women and girls in developing countries and worldwide.”

Foteini Papagioti – Senior Global Policy Advisor, ICRW  

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… adopting the policies and actions required to put peace, people and the planet first. We commit to placing gender equality and the rights of women, girls and people of diverse gender identities and expressions firmly in the center of our efforts for an equitable, just, sustainable, and peaceful future to benefit all. We will ensure that our commitments are matched by adequate resources to accelerate implementation and establish the mechanisms needed to monitor progress and address persistent challenges.”


Stephanie Siddall – Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, Women for Women International. 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… transforming the structure of our decision-making table. Never again will we meet, as G7 leaders, without directly and meaningfully consulting and engaging with women and girls. We know that the global issues we aim to address – such as the climate crisis, conflict and global inequality – disproportionately impact women and girls. We also know that, along with women-led organisations, women and girls in all their diversity are at the forefront of driving forward change in their communities and countries. Their expertise and leadership is crucial, particularly in the context of a global backlash on women’s rights and gender equality. So, going forward, we will champion this within the both the G7 and other decision-making processes.”


Dr. Roopa Dhatt –  Executive Director and Co-Founder, Women in Global Health 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit torecognise women make up at least 70% of the health workforce and are the foundation for health systems security and Universal Health Coverage. We will (1) increase to 50% the proportion of women health workers in leadership roles with a focus on diversity across leadership, (2) recognize the value of unpaid health and care work and eliminate the gender pay gap, focusing on proper remuneration of unpaid and grossly underpaid women health workers, (3) ensure women health workers have safe and decent work environments, free from sexual exploitation and harassment (4) ensure health policies are based on disaggregated data and gender equity.”


Beth Woroniuk – Policy Lead, Equality Fund 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… feminist policy making both at home and in our foreign policies. We support the vision and priorities of feminist activists around the world who are calling for a more just, equal, peaceful, and sustainable world. We will stand up for the rights of women and gender diverse people (including reproductive rights). No longer will we put that paragraph on gender equality at the end of our communique. Rather we will bring a feminist lens to every issue we discuss, highlighting differential impacts and resourcing opportunities to reduce gaps and inequalities.”

Yamina Ouldali – Senior Communications and Policy Officer, Gender and Development Network (GADN) 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… transforming the international economic and financial system. We acknowledge the moral imperative to redress the continuing impact of colonisation and ongoing colonial legacies that highlight the need to decolonise the international economic system and democratise international economic policy-making that centres justice, sustainability and wellbeing over growth and exploitation. This will include the cancellation of sovereign debts of previously colonised countries by bilateral, private and multilateral lenders, progressive international taxation and just trade and investment rules. This will create the necessary fiscal space for the provision of gender-transformative public services and other gender equality-promoting measures across the Global South.”   

Fumie Saito – W7Japan Co-Chair/ Director, Global Advocacy, JOICFP 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… standing by feminists, fighting against the global rollback of women and girls’ rights,  in particular,  the rights to education and sexual and reproductive health and rights, and holding ourselves accountable for the implementation of our commitments.” 

Kristy Kade – CEO, White Ribbon Alliance 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… leading countries, inspiring a world where women are free and able to pursue what they want for their health, lives, and well-being; countries and a world where women speak out, push back, march forward, and lift themselves and others up without fear, judgment, or reprisal. We commit to reimagining and reengineering institutions, systems, and norms to promote gender, racial and climate justice. We commit to leading our countries, inspiring this world, reimagining our institutions with women and girls. We commit to listening to women. We commit to celebrating, respecting, and valuing women’s voices in every facet of life.”


Prof. Pam Rajput – Professor Emeritus, Panjab University 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… that gender concerns and equality shall be central to all the commitments made in all sectors in the Communique. We commit to remove all the structural and systematic barriers to ensure a gender just and equitable society, strengthening gender responsive governance and financial architecture. 

We commit to ensure bodily autonomy, safe and decent workspaces, prevention of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and rising backlash against human rights defenders. 

We commit to implement feminist foreign policy with larger share of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to gender equality. Strengthen the Accountability Framework and ensure that the G7 Accountability Report shall be through gender lens. 

We commit to create a Gender Data Network and improvise for an inclusive outcome dashboard that will encompass both the data transparency and performance monitoring”

Pat Black – International Advisor, Soroptimist International 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… recognising that all women and girls have a right to an equal place in all societies which acknowledges them as individual human beings facing many interconnected barriers. 

We believe those barriers can be removed by political will on our part and encourage all national leaders to join us. 

As G7 leaders we commit to undertaking gender sensitive budgeting to ensure that the gender equality legislation we introduce can be converted to policies which have a practical outcome for changing the lives of all women and girls in our countries.” 

Sohini Bhattacharya, CEO, Breakthrough 

“We, the Leaders of the G7, commit to… making schools a gender transformative space so that young people grow up with gender equitable opinions, have better inter-gender and intergenerational conversations on difficult subjects and all adolescents reach full potential. Schools are great places for building future generations and this way we will create a generational shift on achieving gender equity and equality.”

Stay tuned for Part II, where W7 Advisers also share their top recommendations for G7 Leaders.  They have the Blueprint and solutions.  We’re very happy for G7 Leaders to copy our “homework”! 

No G7 country made fast progress on gender equality in recent years. Here’s how experts think they should flip the script! 

While there has been hard-fought advocacy wins to raise gender equality up the G7 policymaking agenda, it is clear that G7 countries are not ready to really address the root causes of gender equality either at home or abroad.   

Depending on which G7 sub-group you follow, there are both promising and concerning signs about how this powerful group of countries conceives of gender equality challenges.  On the more positive side, the G7 “Senior Development Officials” recognized at their recent meeting that gender equality plays a “central role in achieving the SDGs”, that there have been “rollback(s) of women’s and girls’ rights due to the pandemic and other crises” and that “gender equality requires fair distribution of financial resources.” Important barriers to equality – like the unequal care burden borne by girls and women – are at least being recognized in G7 discussions in ways they haven’t been in the past.   

The G7 Foreign Ministers focused heavily on concerns about women in non-G7 countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, and Iran. However, commentary on the ongoing gender gaps within G7 countries themselves are less discussed; even though no G7 country made fast progress on gender equality in recent years, and three (the UK, Germany and Japan) made no progress at all.  There is clearly more work to do “at home” on gender equality across the G7 countries. 

If G7 countries lack the framework needed to take the systematic action needed to address gender equality both at home and abroad, thankfully the EM2030 Blueprint for Change can guide them!  We weighed in with our friends from the W7 Advisory Group, who shared their perspective on the most important recommendations G7 countries should be taking up to drive real change for women and girls around the world.   

EM2030 Feminist Blueprint to achieving gender equality

Here’s what W7 Advisers had to say: 

Kristy Kade – CEO, White Ribbon Alliance 

3. Promote the leadership, participation, and voice of girls and women.  

Many women are never asked to inform the decisions made about their bodies, health, or minds, let alone the larger world. But they are the foremost experts and sources regarding their own lives, experiences, and circumstances. They know best what is needed to improve them, and their voices should drive change agendas. Biases and beliefs about women’s knowledge and capabilities run deep. So deep that many of us who want to make things better for women, attempt—both unconsciously and not—to do so with little or no direct involvement from the everyday women impacted by our actions. This is the repeated missing ingredient, the routine diagnosis for failed policies and programs—solutions created and implemented in the absence of women’s voices. 

Esther Mwaura-Muiru – Global Advocacy Director, Stand for Her Land Campaign, a global initiative hosted by Landesa 

3. Promote the leadership, participation and voice of girls and women 

The participation of girls and women in public life is not only a core human right but it is also essential for countries’ social and economic health. Yet gender norms about leadership, as well as poverty, care burdens and violence against female public figures often exclude women and girls from decision-making spaces. 

A study in India finds that the presence of female leaders in village councils influenced girls’ aspirations, parents’ expectations for their daughters, and how long girls stayed in school. The visibility of women in public office also shifts people’s perceptions about leadership – a step towards ending the gender norms that hold girls and women back. 

Yamina Ouldali – Senior Communications and Policy Officer, Gender and Development Network (GADN) 

2. Invest in public services and social (including care) infrastructure  

As shown time and time again by multiple, intersecting crises, women and girls bear the brunt of unpaid care work and have to step in where states and public services are failing. If we are to genuinely work towards a more gender-equal world, resisting austerity, and instead, implementing progressive national and international tax regimes is vital for the provision of gender-transformative public services. This must include combating illicit financial flows, tax avoidance and havens, introducing wealth taxes for the super-rich and windfall taxes for corporations as well as establishing a UN intergovernmental tax body and implementing a UN Tax Convention in line with UNGA resolution 77/244. 

Beth Woroniuk – Policy Lead, Equality Fund 

5. Invest in, create space for, and listen to feminist organizations and movements 

Many of the most important changes of the last hundred years have been powered by feminist movements. Women’s organizations have pushed for democratic change, built peace, organized economic alternatives, and brought key issues like reproductive rights into legislatures, community halls, and coffee shops. Yet, they continue to receive pennies out of philanthropic and official development assistance dollars.  They are all too often excluded from key discussions. Take, for example, Afghan women’s organizations and global talks on the future of Afghanistan.    

This is something G7 leaders can address. Invest in, involve, and listen to feminist movements. And act on what they say. 

Dr. Roopa Dhatt – WGH Executive Director and Co-Founder 

2. Invest in public services and social (including care) infrastructure? 

Currently women make up 70% of the overall health workforce, and 90% of frontline staff worldwide, but occupy just 25% of leadership positions. Supporting women while investing in the health workforce leads to a triple dividend: First, a health dividend, by helping to develop a more effective and responsive workforce to meet growing health care demands and demographic changes. Second, a gender equality dividend: women will gain income, education and autonomy, leading to improvements in education, health, and other aspects of development. Third, an economic dividend: new jobs will be created, fueling economic growth. 

Sohini Bhattacharya, CEO, Breakthrough 

3. Promote the leadership, participation and voice of girls and women 

I would like to comment on the recommendation number 3 : Promote the leadership, participation and voice of girls and women. Women’s leadership actually makes structural changes and brings in cultural diversity in every space they occupy. Feminist leadership is key to achieving gender equality and not to mention enhanced and profitable economic activity. However, the truth is that the vulnerable girl from a poor economy doesn’t need to reach her full potential because it will improve her country’s economy, she needs to do so because it is her right. As we see more and more women take ownership, raise their voice and realise their rights, we will begin to transform existing systems of discrimination and power. 

Foteini Papagioti – Senior Global Policy Advisor, ICRW   

3. Promote the leadership, participation and voice of girls and women? 

Stephanie Siddall, Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, Women for Women International. 

3. Promote the leadership, participation and voice of girls and women  

4. Invest in, create space for, and listen to feminist organisations and movements  

All G7 nations are miles off target for meeting the existing commitments they have made to achieve gender equality, including as part of the 2030 Agenda. But, we have a ready-made solution for speeding up implementation – promote the leadership, participation and voice of women and girls and invest in, create space for, and listen to feminist organisations and movements. They should be recognised as strategic partners for creating a more gender equal world. 

We believe this is the only viable pathway for G7 leaders to achieve their goals across a broad range of areas. But it can only be done through sustained, regular interactions through which there are clear benefits for those involved such as learning exchanges and access to resources – including funding that is long-term, flexible and accessible. This approach is fundamental for supporting women, feminist organisations and movements to accelerate the change they are already driving forward. 

Fumie Saito – W7Japan Co-Chair/ Director, Global Advocacy, JOICFP 

1. Reform and apply inequality laws 

G7 leaders should take up the first recommendation, “Reform and apply inequality laws.” The G7 leaders repeatedly stress the promotion of ‘rule of law’ in the international order. The “rule of law” principle should also be pursued in relation to gender equality. It does not cost much money to reform and apply the laws. We just need strong political will by the G7 leaders.  

I also strongly support recommendation No.6. Nurturing youth leadership is one of the goals of this year’s W7. We expect youth to not just participate, but to lead the feminist movements domestically and globally. 

Pat Black – International Advisor, Soroptimist International 

3. Promote the leadership, participation and voice of girls and women? 

Many Governments, including those of G7 (and G20) countries, have made commitments in previous years through international Treaties, Resolutions and Agreements to developing a gender equality legislative framework within their countries. This has been done in the knowledge that supporting women to take their equal place as leaders in their communities in partnership with men enhances the economic, social and governance standards in those communities and countries. The data collected through many sources is showing a widening gender gap especially for women in marginalised communities. 

Many of those commitments have yet to be implemented. 

Action is needed now

Prof. Pam Rajput – Professor Emeritus , Panjab University 

1. Reform and apply inequality laws

All the six recommendations of EM2030 Blueprint to governments are interlinked and critical for a gender equal and just world. However, the first recommendation, that is : Reform and Apply Equality Laws is key to that vision and achieving the transformative agenda, which got derailed during Covid. All the countries including the G7 consciously agreed to gender as cross-cutting to all the SDGs, in addition to the stand alone goal on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (SDG5). There is enough evidence in each country to show how Covid disproportionately impacted the lives of women and exacerbated the inequalities. This has had adverse impact on the socio-economic lives of most of the population of the world and derailing, as mentioned earlier, the economic growth and development. This has indeed put in jeopardy the realisation of transformation agenda by 2030. For this very reason the G 7 countries are likely to take on board recommendations one, which is only restating their commitment and now acting for a holistic development and gender just, peaceful and liveable planet. 

Recognition and understanding of the crucial role gender equality plays in securing a just and sustainable future is becoming more apparent among the G7. Leaders are doing more to “recognize the importance of advancing gender-responsive climate action, closing the digital gender gap, strengthening and formalizing the care economy, and breaking down gender barriers in education.” Yet they continue to skirt around innovative and transformative ideas such as the promotion of key systems-wide solutions like fairer global tax rules, investments in social protection and well-resourced public services.   

Instead we hear the same calls for solutions like “private finance” to deal with “financing gaps” in ways that haven’t changed for decades despite economic inequality widening, austerity deepening, and progress on gender equality stagnating in these very same decades.  

We have seen the recommendations outlined above accelerate progress on gender equality and the sustainable development goals, what we need from G7 leaders is commitment! 

With enormous thanks to the W7 Advisers, who contributed their time and deep expertise to these joint articles.  And to the entire W7 Japan team for convening a participatory and collaborative process to influence the G7 on key gender equality issues at such a pivotal time, with just 7 years left to reach the SDGs. 

How can Senegal continue progress towards gender equality? 

Written by Réseau Siggil Jigéen and Suzanne N’Gouandi, French Speaking Communications Officer, Equal Measures 2030

As in every year, March is marked by the session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, or CSW, which aims to assess progress made and gaps to be filled with respect to the implementation of The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This year, the marks the return to face-to-face after three years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which highlighted gender-equality shortcomings around the world.  

Despite poor progress on gender equality, some countries have made significant progress. 

Senegal, for example, made major progress between 2015 and 2020, as noted in the 2022 SDG Gender Index produced by Equal Measures 2030. Senegal’s most-significant progress across the Sustainable Development Goals can be seen in SDG2 (nutrition) and SDG6 (water), thanks to improved indicators on undernourishment and access to drinking water. 

Since its adoption of the Beijing Declaration, the Government of Senegal has made considerable efforts to promote gender equality and improve the living conditions of women. In 2010, it adopted a law on parity in elected institutions. This law helped Senegal obtain one of the best scores globally for the parliamentary representation of women. Senegal now has the highest proportion of women parliamentarians ever recorded in West Africa and is in fourth place in the African rankings for gender parity in parliament. 

In addition to ratifying several international conventions in support of the promotion of women’s rights, Senegal has developed a National Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality (SNEEG 2016-2026) intended to ensure the full participation of women and men in decision-making processes and equitable access to resources and the benefits of development. 

On the ground, civil society organizations actively work to expose gender inequalities and injustices through campaigns and advocacy. For example, data-driven advocacy has been carried out by the Réseau Siggil Jigéen (RSJ) with EM2030 support. These actions aimed at local leaders and private companies have made it possible, among other things, to increase reproductive-health funding in three Senegalese municipalities and to secure the commitment of the Mayor of Derklé to providing menstrual hygiene products to young women in his municipality (EM2030 Impact Report).  

Despite these notable advances, multiple barriers to women’s rights and gender equality remain. In 2022, consideration of Senegal’s report to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) found an imbalance in the representation of women in national and local decision-making bodies. Of the 559 local authorities in Senegal, only 15 are headed by women, a rate of 2.68%. 

In addition to deficiencies in law enforcement, the prevalence of violence against women and girls in Senegal remains relatively high. Of women aged 15 to 49 years, 27% have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. Furthermore, 68% of these victims of violence say that they have never talked about it or sought help.  

With regard to the achievement of SDG4 (education), Senegal has mixed results. Girls’ school expectancy remains very poor, due to low national-level investment in girls’ primary education.

The recommendations of Senegalese civil society 

To continue progress towards gender equality, Réseau Siggil Jigéen developed a set of recommendations to give greater voice to Senegalese women and girls. The recommendations contain specific actions to be implemented in Senegal. 

Women’s fundamental rights  

  • Amend the Family Code to strengthen women’s rights 
  • Strengthen awareness-raising programmes to combat discrimination  

Violence against women  

  • Publicize and ensure effective enforcement of the criminal law against rape and paedophilia 
  • Make the assignment of lawyers to victims of rape and paedophilia mandatory 
  • Promote the creation of centres to shelter victims and hear their voices, for mentoring and psycho-social support  

Women and health 

  • Provide for the management of girls’ menstrual cycles in formal and non-formal educational institutions 
  • Ensure effective access to basic social services and medical care 
  • Authorise safe abortions for victims of rape and incest, and when the health of the pregnant woman or foetus is in danger  

Women and decision making  

  • Ensure the effectiveness of the Parity Law at the local and national levels 
  • Improve the status of women in political parties  

Despite having a legal framework conducive to the achievement of gender equality, Senegal faces a problem in the enforcement of existing laws and the persistence of discriminatory laws. Effectively implementing these recommendations will be key to achieving gender equality and to the full empowerment of women in the country. 

The world is becoming more gender equal but not fast enough. Here’s why. 

By Alison Holder, Executive Director

This International Women’s Day, if you tire of pink logos and “Girl Power” marketing campaigns, you might find it more satisfying to get real about the answer to the question “Why isn’t the world making faster progress towards gender equality?” I’ll give you a hint: the answer is a pervasive barrier affecting more than 85% of the world’s girls and women.  And women’s rights activists, including Equal Measures 2030, are coming together (convened by Oxfam and NAWI among others) at the UN next week to shout about it. 

That barrier is austerity and the systematic under-resourcing of public services and social infrastructure (including care infrastructure) in the vast majority of countries around the world.   

We know that austerity hits women particularly hard because:  

  • The public sector in most countries is dominated by female workers, who bear the brunt of job losses triggered by austerity.  
  • Cuts in public services increase women’s care burdens and expose them to greater health risks and violence.  
  • Women are over-represented in precarious and informal work sectors, and any weakening of labour market rules only heightens their risks in the workplace, from exploitation to physical dangers.  
  • Finally, any dismantling of the welfare state will, inevitably, have a negative impact on marginalized women living in poverty. 

We’re exactly one year on from the launch of the 2022 EM2030 SDG Gender Index, where we collected data from 144 countries and found that none of them have achieved gender equality. At the current pace of progress, gender equality won’t be reached globally until the year 2108 at the earliest. 

Accelerating progress on gender equality requires resources and investments: Investments in universal public services and social protection.  Investments in care infrastructure.  Funds invested now in healthcare, education, welfare programs, and decent wages for public workers will pay off in the form of healthier, wealthier, and more sustainable societies for all. 

And yet, recent research put out by the #EndAusterity campaign has found that, by 2023, 85 per cent of the world’s population will live in the grip of austerity measures.  Whether because of ideology, or conditions enforced by lenders like the IMF and World Bank, countries – no matter whether rich or poor and across all regions – are embarking on damaging cost cutting programs that hit the poorest and most marginalized girls and women hardest. 

EM2030’s own SDG Gender Index data helps to illuminate how austerity is having a negative impact on gender equality and slowing global progress towards our equality goals. 

  • The EM2030 Index tracks how much countries are spending on their military (adjusted to take into account the country’s GDP or the country’s wealth).  Why?  Because this indicator helps show that austerity is a political choice rather than a fiscal necessity.  Indeed, we found that between 2015 and 2020 two-thirds of countries increased their military spending.  There is no “magic money tree”, except in the case of military expenditure, it would seem. 
  • EM2030 also tracks laws related to the strength of trade unions and labour rights.  Our Index finds that more than 40 per cent of the countries studied weakened “freedom of association and collective bargaining” rights between the years 2015 and 2020.  In light of these trends, it’s little wonder that so many countries have faced weak organised resistance to their austerity regimes. 

The links between lack of progress on gender equality and austerity can be seen by looking at three country examplesEcuador, Brazil and the UK are three countries that have faced decades of austerity measures and that are making ‘no progress’ or moving in the ‘wrong direction’ on the Index.  

  • Ecuador is one of just six countries in which gender equality (as measured by the EM2030 Index) moved in the ‘wrong direction’ between 2015 and 2020. And it is a country that has endured years of austerity (backed by the IMF), with public investment in the health sector falling 64 per cent in just two years from 2018 to 2020.  
  • Gender equality in Brazil stagnated with ‘no progress’ between 2015 and 2020. Over this same period, Brazil’s constitutional amendment (CA95) capped social expenditures and investments at 2016 levels for the next 20 years, with expenditures that benefit women reduced by 58 per cent.  
  • The UK also made ‘no progress’ on gender equality between 2015 and 2020, registering the worst performance amongst the Group of 7 (G7) countries in terms of gender equality progress. Over a similar time period, austerity has been linked to the fact that around 1 in 20 UK households needed a foodbank between 2016 and 2020. Even before the pandemic, in some areas of the UK ‘most’ children were living in poverty

With the “austerity orthodoxy” throwing progress towards gender equality off course, it’s time to remember that International Women’s Day began has its roots in the working class struggles and suffrage movements of the early 20th century. If we want to accelerate progress on gender equality so that it can be reached long before our forecast of the year 2108, we must come together to push back against harmful cuts and promote real investment in a more equal, prosperous and sustainable future for all. 

We want menstrual leave for all!

In December 2022, Spain passed a bill creating menstrual leave for all women who suffer from painful periods. What’s the rest of the world doing?

Charlotte Minvielle, Head of Business Development

Every month, from adolescence till menopause. For a few days or a week. Excruciating or just painful. We all have our period.

There are mornings when cramps, stomachache, tiredness due to the lack of sleep seize me. When I have a crucial appointment or work meeting, like many of us, I dread that my period will fall at that moment.

And again, I’m lucky to be one of those for whom they are bearable. I don’t have endometriosis. And they only last for a few days. 

For some girls, women and people who menstruate, getting out of bed, getting dressed, and getting to work during this time is an ordeal. How do you care for a patient in hospital, traverse a factory floor, or deliver an important presentation to a client when pain prevents you from concentrating, standing up, or even speaking?

In Indonesia, women are allowed two days of menstrual leave a month within their sick leave. In Taiwan three extra days a year are granted for menstruation on top of the statutory 30, whilst Zambia has a legal entitlement to a day off a month for menstrual leave.

In Japan, a law saying those experiencing a difficult menstruation period should be given time off has existed since 1947 but it does not have to be paid leave. And while the uptake was relatively high at first with around 26% in 1965, a 2017 government survey found that only 0.9% of female employees claimed it.

The same can be seen in South Korea where women have the right to claim leave during their period but the use has dropped from 23.6% in 2013 to 19.7% in 2017 as extra pay is given to those who do not take it.

Cultural norms and workplace pressure prevent women from retrieving the leave. Both Japan and South Korea have some of the highest gender pay gaps in the OECD and some of the lowest shares of female managers.

It’s worth noting that companies can also choose to put in place a menstrual leave policy to attract and retain their female employees by making a statement about caring for their wellbeing. While some Indian states have adopted it, the Indian food delivery company Zomato for example has rolled it out nationally. The announcement was significant in a country which has one of the lowest female participation rates in the workforce at 35% and where girls typically miss 20% of the school year because of their period.

On 15 December, Spanish MPs passed a bill creating menstrual leave for all women who suffer from painful periods. The bill received 190 votes in favour, 154 against and 5 abstentions. If it’s voted on in the senate and ultimately put in place, it will be a first in Europe.

A survey of Dutch women from 2019 found that 14% had taken time off from work or school during their period and only 20% gave the real reason. In France, two thirds of women are now in favour of menstrual leave.

For a health system to be fair, feminist, and equitable, it must take menstrual health seriously and address the challenges that arise with painful periods. Every country has work to do in this area, from access to menstrual hygiene and toilet facilities, to making period products available and affordable.

Despite challenges around implementation and access to this right for all workers, legislation around menstrual leave matters. Today Japanese, Indonesian, Korean, Zambian, and soon Spanish women, are entitled to it, why not for all?

A Feminist Blueprint to Achieving Gender Equality

Lessons learnt from the 2022 SDG Gender Index as to how we can achieve the 2030 Agenda

The 2022 SDG Gender Index provides a snapshot of where the world stands on the vision of gender equality embedded in the 2030 Agenda. Unfortunately, it reveals that even before the pandemic, the world was not on track to achieve this vision; the progress that had been made was too slow, too fragile and too fragmented.

Since then, Covid-19 has dramatically impacted all sectors of life, disrupting economies, claiming lives, and building barriers to basic rights such as education, welfare and security. It’s difficult to analyse the full impact – particularly as data gaps hide the experiences of the most vulnerable and hard-hit – yet we know from the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, António Guterres, “that years or even decades of development progress have been halted or reversed” as a result.

Whilst the Index showcases where progress is (and isn’t) happening, it also pulls out the crosscutting themes that often appear in the countries and regions that are making this progress. Drawing on this and the experience of our ‘global to local’ gender equality partnership, we outline six recommendations that, taken together, provide a blueprint for change that may ease the impacts of COVID-19 whilst getting us back on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

We must remove or reform discriminatory laws whilst also applying laws that ensure gender equality. The implementation of these laws must be monitored and enforced, which is possible when they are bolstered by political will and matched by policy and budget commitments, public campaigns and steady shifts in gender norms.

Countries that make good use of laws to facilitate women’s economic inclusion, for example, have been found to have better health, nutrition and educational outcomes for women and their families, more resilient employment for women and more women in their parliaments.

Gender-responsive budgets, progressive taxation and strong investment in public services are needed to fund the social transformation for gender equality. As countries recover from COVID-19, investments in the care economy should be prioritised over austerity policies which are less effective in reducing public debts, whilst also ensuring that unpaid care work is visible in national statistics and that publicly funded care services are affordable and accessible.

Attention should also be turned toward the great losses from tax exemptions that favour the richest, cross-border tax abuse and evasion, as well as public funds that are diverted for military expenditure instead of social infrastructure.

Index data reveals that public investment reduces income inequality and that there is a strong need for countries to disaggregate public budgets by gender, age, income and region.

The participation of girls and women in public life is not only a core human right but it is also essential for countries’ social and economic health. Yet gender norms about leadership, as well as poverty, care burdens and violence against female public figures often exclude women and girls from decision-making spaces.

A study in India finds that the presence of female leaders in village councils influenced girls’ aspirations, parents’ expectations for their daughters, and how long girls stayed in school. The visibility of women in public office also shifts people’s perceptions about leadership – a step towards ending the gender norms that hold girls and women back.

It is also essential to address structural inequalities and discrimination. We can do this through easing care burdens to allow women the freedom to take on leadership roles, as well as investing in education and training on civic participation, mentorship schemes and programmes that enhance girls’ aspirations.

Closing gender data gaps is vital in monitoring progress and influencing the decisions of policy makers. We must close gaps by increasing the supply of data (especially data that allows for intersectional analyses) whilst also increasing capacity for the use of this data.

This involves engaging feminist organisations in the production, interpretation and storytelling of data, ensuring they have access to the data needed to hold policy makers accountable and influence decision-making. On the other side, norm changes are also needed to ensure policy makers value gender data and gender targets as essential and not just desirable.

Feminist movements play a critical role in the promotion of gender equality and have been key to much of the progress made so far. Yet these movements and organisations remain drastically underfunded and under-supported.

What can donors do to support them? Funding needs to be increased AND transformed. Donor practices should be adapted to meet the needs and realities of these organisations, involving them in the design of financing mechanisms and ensuring they receive direct, core, flexible and sustainable funding.

What can governments do? Governments must support the safety of feminist activists, protecting their human rights and security whilst also removing barriers to collective action. The voices, expertise and data of feminists movements and organisations must also be included and valued in decision and policy making spaces.  

Girl- and youth-led organizations are powerful advocates for social, climate and gender justice, yet they remain under-valued and overlooked in decisions that affect them. To empower young girls and women we must tackle child marriage, as our partners in India are doing, as well as barriers to education as our partners FAWE and IPBF do.

To ensure that gender equality is resilient and the rights of girls and young women do not backslide, programmes, policies and laws need to be designed with and for girls and young women, and there must be increased funding for girl- and youth-led organisations and young advocates.

Low-income countries continue to face challenges in ensuring that every girl and young woman goes to secondary school – 2022 SDG Gender Index Figure 26

The 2022 SDG Gender Index reveals stark findings on the lack of progress made since the Sustainable Development Goals were established. But it also reveals stories of hope, and the crucial building blocks that can set us on a path not just to achieve the 2030 Agenda but also to ensure an equality that is resilient, sustainable and, ultimately, unstoppable!

Read the full 2022 SDG Gender Index here or discover the data behind it here.

If representation is a rights issue, why are women still critically underrepresented? 

By Maxine Betteridge-Moes

“Leadership is a means, not an end,” wrote the feminist activist Srilatha Batliwala, an India-based scholar with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development. With this statement in mind, and in order to make sustainable progress on gender equality by 2030, we must not only fix the system that holds women back from positions of power and authority, but also ensure that women that do arrive to these leadership positions can hold onto their authority and exercise their power to achieve social transformation for generations to come.  

The 2022 SDG Gender Index measures women’s leadership and representation across 14 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Of the 56 indicators used to measure gender equality in the Index, four indicators directly measure aspects of women’s leadership, namely: women in parliament, women in ministerial posts, women in science and technology, and women in climate change leadership. In its second edition, the Index measures progress over time and has evolved into an even more useful tool for advocates to hold their governments to account in achieving gender equality.  

Alison Holder, the director of Equal Measures 2030 says the Index shows that while some countries have made significant progress on women’s representation in recent years, a persistent lack of gender data masks disparities across different sectors and groups of women.  

“If you dig into the Index, there is a mixed picture in terms of progress on women’s representation,” she said. “We have to celebrate progress where it’s happening, but there isn’t one single trend or story we can draw about women’s leadership from the Index.”   

“It’s the system’s problem”

Women’s representation and feminist leadership are two important concepts for gender equality, but they are not one in the same. While women’s representation is easier to count and measure through data and statistics, feminist leadership considers how power is executed and decisions are made. As champions of grassroots feminist leadership themselves, many of EM2030’s partners have found ways to redefine, value, use, share and distribute power.  

“One of the challenges is that the focus is usually on fixing the woman rather than fixing the problem,” explained Emily Maranga, the program manager at GROOTS Kenya. “So we use the power of our collective to carry out advocacy and encourage women to take up leadership. Because if the leadership spaces are open and women are not taking them up, that’s not the woman’s problem. It’s the system’s problem.” 

The volatility of women’s leadership

The best available data in terms of measuring women’s leadership is their political representation in parliament and senior government roles. According to the Index, the world on average made significant progress on women’s political representation between 2015 and 2020: 90 countries made ‘very fast’ progress on increasing women’s representation in parliament and 78 countries made ‘very fast’ progress on increasing women’s representation in senior government roles.  

“We can’t ignore, however, that this progress comes from a very low base and the world is still far from where it needs to be to meet the target of gender parity in political participation,” said Holder. In 2020, just 26.4% of parliamentary seats and 24.7% of senior government roles globally were held by women. The volatility of these statistics also can’t be ignored, as women’s representation can fluctuate widely depending on the political agenda of ruling parties. For example, the Index shows that between 2015 and 2020, several countries including Ethiopia, Lebanon and Mexico saw major leaps forward in the percentage of women in senior government positions, while several countries including Estonia, Slovenia and Poland fell back significantly in the wrong direction. The result is an overall global grade of ‘very poor’ for these two indicators.  

Source: 2022 SDG Gender Index, Equal Measures 2030

Other indicators on women in science and technology and on women in climate change delegations paint an even more mixed picture. As of 2018, only 31% of science and technology research posts were held by women, and on average, the world had made ‘no progress’ on increasing the share of women since 2015. In terms of women’s representation in climate change delegations, Holder describes a “tale of two halves”. While 55% of countries made ‘some’ or ‘fast’ progress on increasing women’s participation in climate change leadership between 2015 and 2020, a large proportion of countries (41%) moved in the wrong direction on this measure and reduced the proportion of women in their climate change delegations. At COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, the global summit to accelerate action on climate change, women accounted for, on average, 33% of government delegates, just as they did in 2019 and 2020.  

Persistent data gaps

The increased participation and presence of women in politics and public life is a vital step towards advancing gender equality – but it is not the only factor. Women often encounter hierarchical and exclusionary power structures in decision-making spaces that undermine their active participation and engagement. Transforming this structural context is key for their political empowerment and authority. 

Data on women’s representation in parliament and senior government positions is relatively easy to find, but it indicates that women in these formal political spaces come from more privileged backgrounds. Comparable data on women’s representation at the subnational level is scarce, and for nearly half of all countries, sub-national data does not exist at all. Most countries do not collect data on women’s representation in the private sector and in NGOs, which is needed to provide a clearer picture of women’s voice and influence across sectors. Data is also missing across all sectors on the participation and experience of other groups including ethnic or racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, women with disabilities and others, to arrive in leadership positions. 

“The Index report expresses the importance of having better gender data that allows us to measure intersecting inequalities to look at the situation for women on average, but crucially the situation for different groups of women to ensure equality and justice,” said Holder.  

The road ahead 

Even as most countries worldwide seem to be making some advances on women’s representation, the SDG Gender Index sounds the alarm at its slow pace, its limited scale, and its profound fragility. It’s still too soon to gauge the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on girls and women around the world, and future humanitarian crises will further expose and intensify the severe inequalities laid bare in the Index. What matters now is what we do next. 

The first step for women’s rights advocates like EM2030 is to continue promoting the visibility of female politicians and decision-makers across public and private sectors, and collecting and using disaggregated data to plug persistent gaps around women’s leadership and representation. Donors must invest more in data monitoring and accountability across all sectors, fund grassroots organizations and invest in more training programs on political systems, women’s right to participation, and their roles in decision-making. Finally, governments can promote quota systems to help bring women into political spheres, use international frameworks to bring diverse women into emergency responses, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding, invest in structural and legal reforms that provide women with social and legal protections, and finally, call for gender-balanced decision-making bodies.  

The road ahead for gender equality, and particularly for women’s representation and feminist leadership will undoubtedly have its bumps. But as Lina Abirafeh, the former Executive Director of the Arab Institute for Women puts it: “Right now, we need to defend and reclaim our space, our voice and our words. And then we can move forward.”  

International Women’s Day 2022: More women in climate leadership, but gender equality is yet to be met

By Maxine Betteridge-Moes

In a speech upon her appointment as the first Indigenous Governor General in Canada in July 2021, Mary Simon spoke about the disproportionate and devastating impact of climate change on Indigenous communities in Canada’s Arctic.  

“Our North is a well-lived and lived-in homeland for Inuit, First Nations and Métis people,” she said. “Our climate allows society to be possible.” 

In Canada, like in many other places around the world, those that contribute the least to climate change are enduring the most of its impact. Yet, despite being more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Indigenous people, and Indigenous women, have long been excluded from leadership roles that could help to address this profoundly unequal phenomenon.  

Data from the 2022 SDG Gender Index shows that leadership of national delegations on climate change has become more gender equal, and more women are participating in decision-making spaces around the world. In recognition of the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” which celebrates the contribution of women and girls who are working to change the climate of gender equality, the Governor General’s words resonate deeply.  

“Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow
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‘Back to normal’ is not good enough 

Change, however, is slow. The data shows that while many countries are making progress, others are achieving none, and some are even moving in the wrong direction. The 2022 SDG Gender Index uses a wide range of datasets and indicators to judge the impact of climate change on women and girls to track global progress towards gender equality. It serves as both a warning, sounding the alarm on problematic areas and calling attention to risk, and a spotlight, revealing areas of strength and unexpected headway.

A reason for hope 

Let us begin, however, on a positive note: the Index shows that 55 per cent of countries, including Canada, made ‘some’ or ‘fast’ progress on the climate change leadership and women’s participation in climate change leadership’s measure. The 10 fastest moving countries from 2015-2020 are in the Global South, and many of them have made notable progress on the three indicators related to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action, namely: climate change leadership, women’s perception of environmental policy and climate change vulnerability. The Sub-Saharan Africa region ranked second only to the Asia Pacific region on women and the environment, out-performing Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa.  

Women are at the forefront of climate change leadership in many of these countries. India and Indonesia, for example, rank among the top countries in the Asia Pacific region for their progress on Goal 13, which is driven in part by women’s representation on climate change delegations and the share of women who are satisfied with efforts being made to preserve the environment. Continuing this trajectory in other regions is important if we are to see more rapid progress by the next edition of the Index in 2025. 

Cause for concern 

Now, for the bad news.  

Worryingly, the Index shows that the two indicators on C02 emissions and climate vulnerability had the largest number of countries either making ‘no progress’ or even moving in the ‘wrong direction’.  North America and Europe, regions that perform relatively well on other indicators, made no progress between 2015 and 2020 on these two indicators. And in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region’s score of 56.8 constitutes a ‘Very Poor’ overall performance on Goal 13. 

These findings show that achievements in advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis are too slow and patchy at best. Goal 13 is one of the three SDGs with the lowest global average Index scores, along with Goal 17 on partnerships and Goal 16 on justice. It is deeply concerning that the world continues to fall short on these crucial areas, which can address some of the highest priority issues for girls and women. 

Gender data gaps persist 

Ranking countries’ progress towards gender equality within the context of the climate crisis through existing available data is only half the battle. Gender data gaps – areas where data is not disaggregated by sex or not collected at all – persist across all sectors. EM2030 and its partners have faced major challenges in collecting data which allows for the gendered examination of environment and climate issues. The lack of data on many environmental issues means we are left in the dark on women’s needs and contributions in many contexts.  For example, we could not include SDGs 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land), because of a lack of social impact indicators for these SDGs, let alone indicators that can be used to understand how these issues affect girls and women.  

But of course, data alone is not enough for successful advocacy. It needs to be accessible, usable, and communicable. This is precisely why our work at EM2030 to connect data and evidence with advocacy and action on gender equality is essential to meaningfully transform the lives of women and girls around the world.  

Gender equality is still within reach 

On International Women’s Day, we echo calls to celebrate women’s participation and leadership in climate change adaptation and mitigation. This may be an ambitious goal, but it is still within reach. Upon her installment, Canada’s Governor General promised to “promote and recognize leading examples of community and Indigenous-driven conservation and of climate action” to inspire other Canadians. Gender data will allow other global leaders to examine the opportunities, as well as the constraints, to empower and rally behind women and girls to have a voice, make decisions, and contribute to building a sustainable future for us all.  

Tableau and Equal Measures 2030 Data Fellowship Launch

On May 12, 2021, Equal Measures 2030, in partnership with the Tableau Foundation, launched the first cohort of data journalist fellows. These 16 data journalists hail from Kenya and India and will work with Tableau and EM2030 over the next year to write stories about gender issues using Tableau visualizations. They will complete six days of classroom training to enhance their Tableau skills and work with Tableau mentors throughout the project to ensure ongoing growth and learning. They will also work with EM2030’s staff and national partners to produce data-based stories that are relevant to gender issues in their countries. By the end of the fellowship, the journalists will have gained skills in Tableau that will enable them to more effectively use data in their storytelling.

At the inception of the fellowship, we have asked the fellows to reflect on what keeps them motivated to work in journalism, how Tableau will help them in their work, and why they are participating in this fellowship.

Why journalism?

“When practised in a true feminist sense, one upholds the agency of people that one is writing about, keeps their voices intact and at the centre of the article/video that one is creating and ultimately passes the mic and amplifies the voices of the marginalised.” -Aarushee Shukla, India

“Journalism brings issues to fore that would have otherwise stayed hidden.” -Maria Powerson, Kenya

“…what always motivates me in pursuing journalism currently is how to harness data revolution and reshaping the gender narrative through creative communication and social justice storytelling” -Rosemary Okello-Orlale, Kenya

“As the world continues to move towards an accelerated climate change scenario, we are forgetting about the poorest and the most marginalised communities that will be the most affected. I want to keep reminding the world about the people that they have forgotten about and this is what keeps me motivated.” -Shreya Raman, India

Why Tableau?

Learning Tableau will be crucial in giving me the technical skills necessary to produce data journalism stories and in driving my higher ambition to tell stories that influence positive change.” -Ivy Nyayieka, Kenya

Tableau will be like opening flood gates. It will allow me to make infographics in my own stories, in the stories of people who might need my help and also, it would help me to visualise stories for the company.” -Nancy Agutu, Kenya

I will use the skills learnt to amplify the writing work I already do, particularly influencing policy, to create a greater positive impact for equality in tourism.” — Lucy Atieno, Kenya

“The effective use of tools to analyse and present data in an efficient yet aesthetic manner is critical so that the products reach a wide and diverse audience.” -Lalita Pulavarti, India

Why this fellowship?

My strength when telling stories lies in human interest stories with a bias in women and children. I would love to tell my stories in a more powerful way using better tools and ways of doing so.” -Saada Hassan, Kenya

I feel the Data fellowship is a perfect fit for development practitioners to build data-related skills that will enable us to share a more wholesome picture of what’s happening on the ground.” -Pooja Singh, India

“I saw this scholarship as a great opportunity to expand my knowledge-base in data journalism as well as learn new skills that can enable me to transform lives through fact-based stories.” -Viola Kosome, Kenya

I want to tell stories with a deliberate angle that includes affairs affecting genders. It is vital for storytellers to be informed on biases and how they can influence society’s policies, regulations, and people’s lives.” -Sharon Kiburi, Kenya

“Since May 2020, I have been curating #WomenLead, a newsletter about women in politics. A desire to build on that work, and a wish to steer evidence-backed, compelling conversations about the gender skew in India’s politics is why I applied for the fellowship.” -Akshi Chawla, India

Each month, we will be spotlighting different fellows and the work they are doing through this project. We are excited to share these wonderful gender advocates and their stories with you over the next year!

Learn more about the EM2030/Tableau partnership.