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No single country set to achieve gender equality by 2030 – how does Georgia measure up?

By Levan Abramishvili
Thursday, June 6
Achieving gender equality seems to be a more far-fetched dream than previously thought.

According to a newly launched index, not a single country in the world is on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. The index measures progress against the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of goals agreed upon by all UN member states in 2015.

The 5th out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender equality envisages a set of ambitious goals to be achieved by 2030, including (but not limited to) to “end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere”; “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation”; “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”; etc.

The SDG Gender Index, created by Equal Measures 2030, is the most comprehensive tool available to explore the state of gender equality across 129 countries (covering 95% of the world’s girls and women).

The 2019 SDG Gender Index finds that the global average score of 65.7 out of 100 is “poor”; barely a “passing grade.” With just 11 years to go until 2030, nearly 40% of the world’s girls and women – 1.4 billion – live in countries failing on gender equality.

According to the report, “another 1.4 billion live in countries that “barely pass.” Even the highest-scoring countries have more to do, particularly on complex issues such as climate change, gender budgeting and public services, equal representation in powerful positions, gender pay gaps, and gender-based violence. No country in the world has reached the “last mile” on gender equality.”

Sixty countries are failing on SDG 5 (the standalone goal on gender equality), with a “very poor” score of 59 or lower, and another 24 countries “barely pass” with a “poor” score between 60 and 69. However, the index encompasses other goals that relate to gender equality issues.

Of the top 20 countries globally, 18 are in Europe and North America, and two (Australia and New Zealand) are in Asia and the Pacific region. Of the bottom 20 countries, 17 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, two in Asia and the Pacific (Bangladesh and Pakistan), and one in the Middle East and North Africa (Yemen).

The report says that overall, higher income countries are more likely to have greater gender equality than lower income countries. But the data shows that this is not always the case, since some countries, including Georgia, Greece, Finland, etc. perform better than would be expected based on their GDP per capita.

On the other hand, other countries, such as Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States, among others, have lower gender equality scores that might be expected given the countries’ income levels.

It is noteworthy that no one country is the world’s best performer – or even among the world’s top ten performers – across all goals or all indicators. Several success stories in some signs also include the countries on the bottom of the list.

On the list of the countries, Georgia is 40th, with the index score of 72.8, followed by South Korea (72.6) and FYR Macedonia (72.2). Denmark tops the list with 89.3.

However, in the specific categories, such as SDG 4: Education, Denmark, the index’ top overall performer, drops to 14th place, behind countries such as Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and Slovenia.

In the Europe and North America region, Georgia, with its score of 72.8 ranks 33 out of 41. On the top of the region list are Denmark (89.3), Finland (88.8) and Sweden (88.0), while Moldova (69.5), Russia (67.6) and Azerbaijan (67.5) take the last three spots, respectively.

Georgia ranked high on the list of countries close to full parity between men and women in science and technology research positions. Other countries that have reached or nearly reached parity include Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, and Moldova.

The results of the Index are alarming and should serve as a reminder that achieving these ambitious goals requires the daily dedication of the governments that agreed to achieve them.

Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that this fact “should serve as a wakeup call to the world.” As she notes, the Index also shows that “progress is possible.” Limited resources and other challenges are not a reason to fail women and girls: “When it comes to gender equality, governments shouldn’t have excuses for inaction,” she says.

Equal Measures 2030 is a partnership of civil society and the private sector, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, ONE Campaign, KPMG, FEMNET, and Plan International.