Of the 114 countries studied, none has achieved full gender parity, the report by UN Women and the UN Development Program (UNDP) reveals.
In addition, less than one percent of women and girls worldwide live in a country with high women’s empowerment and a small gender gap in areas such as health and education.
Meanwhile, 3.1 billion girls and women – more than 90 percent of the world’s female population – live in countries characterized by a huge lack of women’s empowerment and a huge gender gap.
Measuring power, evaluating differences
The report introduces two new indices to shed light on the complex challenges facing women around the world and provide a roadmap for targeted interventions and policy reforms.
The Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI) measures women’s power and freedom to make choices and seize opportunities in five dimensions: health, education, inclusion, decision-making, and violence against women.
The Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI) assesses gender disparities in key dimensions of human development, including health, education, inclusion, and decision-making.
Globally, women are empowered to reach an average of only 60 percent of their full potential, as measured by WEI. On average, they achieve 28 percent lower than men across human development benchmarks, as measured by the GGPI.
The full potential is not being realized
These empowerment gaps and disparities are detrimental not only to women’s well-being and development but also to overall human development, the report said.
UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous recalled the international community’s strong commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, he said the new indices revealed that women’s full potential remains unrealized, and that large gender gaps persist, thus hindering and slowing progress towards the realization of the purpose
“Continued efforts are therefore needed to deliver on the promise of gender equality, ensure the human rights of women and girls and ensure that their fundamental freedoms are fully realized,” he said.
‘Real change for real people’
The indices reveal the need for comprehensive policy action in the areas of health, education, work-life balance and support for families, and violence against women, which in turn can accelerate efforts towards a more fair and inclusive world.
“Many girls and women live in countries that only allow them to reach a fraction of their potential and these new insights are finally designed to help make real change. – for real people,” said Achim Steiner, head of UNDP.