Gender Equality 2022
The world is not on track to achieving gender equality by 2030, and the social and economic fallout from the pandemic has made the situation even bleaker.
Progress in many areas, including time spent on unpaid care and domestic work, decision-making regarding sexual and reproductive health, and gender-responsive budgeting, is falling behind.
Women’s health services, already poorly funded, have faced major disruptions. Violence against women remains endemic. And despite women’s leadership in responding to COVID-19, they still trail men in securing the decision-making positions they deserve.
Commitment and bold action are needed to accelerate progress, including through the promotion of laws, policies, budgets and institutions that advance gender equality. Greater investment in gender statistics is vital, since less than half of the data required to monitor Goal 5 are currently available.
Violence against women and girls is found in all countries and affects women of all ages. Globally, 26 percent of ever-partnered women aged 15 and older (641 million) have been subjected to physical and/ or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.
Limited evidence points to an intensification of violence against women during the pandemic. A 2021 rapid gender assessment survey in 13 countries, undertaken by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), found that 45 percent of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced some form of violence since COVID-19. Global awareness of violence against older women specifically is growing, but data on the subject are limited, and the nature, scale, severity and complexity of such violence may be underestimated.
Less than 10 percent of eligible data on intimate partner violence capture the prevalence of such violence among women aged 50 and older. Limited evidence from 2000–2018 found that between 4 percent and 7 percent of women in this age group experienced physical and/ or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the last 12 months. Older women, however, may be vulnerable to specific forms of violence not usually measured in surveys on violence against women, such as economic exploitation, or being ostracized or neglected. Perpetrators of such violence, aside from intimate partners, can include adult children and other relatives, strangers, caregivers and neighbours.
The world is not on track to achieving gender equality by 2030, and the social and economic fallout from the pandemic has made the situation even bleaker. Progress in many areas, including time spent on unpaid care and domestic work, decision-making regarding sexual and reproductive health, and gender-responsive budgeting, is falling behind. Women’s health services, already poorly funded, have faced major disruptions.
Violence against women remains endemic. And despite women’s leadership in responding to COVID-19, they still trail men in securing the decision-making positions they deserve. Commitment and bold action are needed to accelerate progress, including through the promotion of laws, policies, budgets and institutions that advance gender equality.
Greater investment in gender statistics is vital since less than half of the data required to monitor Goal 5 are currently available.
Child marriage and female genital mutilation are persistent human rights violations holding back progress for girls and women In 2021, nearly one in five young women were married before the age of 18. The highest rates of child marriage are found in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where 35 percent and 28 percent of young women, respectively, were married in childhood.
Globally, the prevalence of child marriage has declined by about 10 percent in the past five years. However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have put more girls at risk, owing to economic shocks, school closures and interruptions in social services.
By 2030, up to 10 million more girls are likely to become child brides, in addition to the 100 million girls who were projected to be at risk before the pandemic. Another persistent harmful practice and human rights violation is female genital mutilation (FGM).
At least 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM, mainly in the 31 countries where the practice is concentrated. In many countries, it remains as common today as it was three decades ago. Even in countries where the practice has become less prevalent, progress would need to be at least 10 times faster to meet the global target of eliminating FGM by 2030.
Education is one key to its elimination. Opposition to FGM is highest among girls and women who are educated. Girls whose mothers have a primary education are 40 percent less likely to be cut than those whose mothers have no education.
The global prevalence of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence against ever-partnered women.
Gender equality Progress in women’s access to leadership positions, in both political and economic spheres, remains sluggish During the pandemic, women leaders have acted decisively and effectively to implement and manage response and recovery efforts, prioritizing measures that address the most vulnerable groups. Despite this widely acknowledged success, the pace of progress on women’s representation in decision-making positions is discouraging.
Working women, including those in managerial positions, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have had their hours reduced or left the workforce altogether due to increased unpaid care work at home.
The share of women in managerial positions worldwide saw only a slight improvement from 2015 to 2019, increasing from 27.2 to 28.3 percent.
That share remained unchanged from 2019 to 2020, which is the first year without an increase since 2013. In many countries, women still lack the legal right to autonomy over their own bodies Only 57 percent of women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care, according to data from 64 countries for the period 2007–2021. Critical to this decision-making ability is the extent to which laws prevent or enable access to relevant health care and information.
Among 115 countries with data, countries had in place an average of 76 percent of the laws and regulations needed to guarantee full and equal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely having a significant impact on women’s ability to exercise their bodily autonomy. In the first year of the pandemic, an estimated 1.4 million additional unintended pregnancies occurred in lower- and middle-income countries. This could be due to several factors. Women may have experienced financial hardships that prevented them from making their own decisions to seek health care and contraception. During lockdown periods, women may have found it harder to say no to sex due to increased tensions in the home related to health, finance and social isolation.
Finally, disruption or suspension of sexual and reproductive health care may have made these essential services inaccessible to women. Protection of women’s land and property rights still has a long way to go Owning rights to land, specifically agricultural land, reduces women’s reliance on male partners and relatives.
Yet, in 30 countries, less than half of women had ownership and/or secure tenure rights over agricultural land, according to 2009–2020 data from 36 countries. In 18 of these countries, the share of men having ownership was twice that of women. Gender-responsive policy and legal frameworks are essential to advancing women’s rights to land. However, only 15 out of 52 reporting countries included sufficient provisions in their legal frameworks to offer women good protection in this regard.
The most prominent areas in which positive results have been achieved are in succession rights and in protection from being disposed in land transactions.
Accelerated progress is needed to align public financing with gender equality objectives Building back better from COVID-19 means doing so in a way that advances gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Fundamental to this goal is ensuring that the allocation and spending of public financing take gender equality into account.
Accelerated action is needed to expand the comprehensive implementation of gender-responsive budgeting and strengthen its monitoring and evaluation.
Even though in many countries, most women are engaged in agriculture or small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) as their economic activities, their productivity is lower compared with men’s due to the fixed roles of women in society and their limited access to opportunities to acquire skills and financial resources. From the experience of JICA’s projects, it is evident that cooperation between men and women in making decisions about farm management and in agricultural works leads to improving the farmers’ productivity. In addition, if women engaged in SMEs such as food processing companies, acquire knowledge and skills and increase production and sales, this will not only increase their incomes but also vitalize the local economy as a whole.
Based on this view, JICA’s agricultural, rural, and industrial development will all promote women’s participation in economic activities as described in Target 5.5. In addition, if women acquire knowledge and skills and contribute to production and income, they can strengthen their influence in the household and in society, and increase their “leadership” to help improve the issues they face.
In private-sector partnership projects also, paying attention to women’s needs will lead to the development of new demands. In addition, the promotion of women’s employment will lead to the empowerment of women.
Women’s rights and security (protection from conflict, natural disasters, and trafficking in persons)
Political and public contribution
Although conflict and natural disasters have different impacts on men and women, they, together with the social structure, frequently limit the participation of women, ethnic minorities, and the poor, etc. in efforts for reconstruction and prevention (risk reduction).
When providing support for peace-building, disaster prevention, and reconstruction, JICA aims not only to restore communities to their original condition before the conflict or natural disaster but also to create communities that are resilient to artificial or physical shocks. This requires the enabling of various different levels of society, such as women, ethnic minorities, and the poor, to participate in the various decision-making processes in political, economic, and social fields. From the viewpoints of human rights protection and support for long-term issues — the prevention of conflict and the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster
Risk Reduction — JICA will make active efforts to promote “women’s full and effective participation” and to strengthen their “leadership” as described in Target 5.5.
Contribution to Target 5.2:
Trafficking in persons occurs all over the world, because it is closely related to poverty, social and economic disparity, discrimination, labor mobility, natural disasters, and conflict, etc.; and it may be said that it is a structural problem rooted in the serious violation of human rights, gender issues, and social and economic structures. In addition, trafficking in persons is also related to not only sexual exploitation but also various types of labor exploitation, such as in the agricultural and fisheries industries, factories, and family labor.
To prevent trafficking in persons and to protect and rehabilitate victims in the Mekong Region and ASEAN countries, JICA has made efforts to strengthen the systems and capacity to provide support from the viewpoint of the victims and will contribute to protection and empowerment against trafficking in persons.
Women’s education and lifetime health Contribution
JICA regards maternal and child health as one of the priority issues in the health sector and has made efforts to strengthen the system to provide health services (including the construction of obstetrical facilities, nurses, who are usually female, and training of midwives), such as continuous mother-child care, vaccination, and mother-child nutrition improvement during the antenatal, postnatal, childbirth, newborn, and child periods, promote collaboration between administrative agencies, medical institutions, and communities, and make use of Maternal and Child Health Handbook. Such efforts not only contribute to the promotion of the health of women and children, but also to the improvement of welfare. In addition, it improves the status of women who contribute to society as health and medical resources.
Important efforts include not only improvements by the supply side of maternal and child health services but also awareness-raising activities on the demand side, such as women, men, families, and communities. Such efforts support the improvement of women’s knowledge, the strengthening of women’s decision-making to use the health services to protect themselves and their children, and the promotion of men’s and communities’ understanding. Maternal and Child Health Handbook is a tool for supporting continuous perinatal care and is learning material for health education. In the “Project for Improving Reproductive Health with a Special Focus on Maternal and Child Health” in Palestine, Maternal and Child Health Handbook includes information on family planning in addition to information on pregnancy, childbirth, and the child’s health.
Gender responsive governance
For JICA’s efforts to empower gender equality, women, and girls in the education sector, see the position paper for Goal 4 “Education.”
Contribution to Target 5.1:
Laws and the judicial system not only stipulate property rights, inheritance, other rights, and family relations, such as marriage and divorce, but are also important to ensure equality and remove all aspects of discrimination, such as in education, economic opportunities, including employment and wages, and the prevention and control of violence and punishment for violence, etc.
JICA places importance on the establishment of a legal and justice system, and has supported the establishment of a Civil Code and other laws that stipulate property rights and family relations, the development of legal human resources, such as judges and lawyers, and the improvement of legal access, such as the dissemination of information on laws and regulations and the improvement of legal services. Through such support, JICA will contribute to establishing rules and systems that will realize gender equality. In addition, to facilitate the execution of these laws, JICA will make efforts to make the legal system easy to use by both men and women and provide support to the police to prevent violence against women.3
Gender-responsive infrastructure development
Contribution to Target 5.4:
In many countries, women are engaged in domestic labor, including childcare and nursing care, for many hours. A lack of infrastructure development, such as electricity and water supply facilities, sewerage, roads, and transport facilities, can be the reason their housework is too much of a burden. Infrastructure as a basis for life contributes to a reduction in the amount of housework. In addition, the development of public transport facilities leads to women’s greater participation in society. The construction of agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation facilities, and its equal access to assets leads to improved agricultural production.
For infrastructure development, it is important to fully understand the needs of vulnerable people, such as women and the disabled, in order to improve their convenience and to provide fair utility charges, and this should be considered from the planning stage. In addition, the employment of women on infrastructure projects and women’s participation in construction work will lead to women’s economic empowerment.4
THINGS TO DO
Women earn 10 to 30 per cent less than men for the same work. Pay inequality persists everywhere. Voice your support for equal pay for equal work.
Find a Goal 5 charity you want to support. Any donation, big or small, can make a difference!
Be aware of gender stereotypes. Recognize them, avoid them and educate others about them.
Stand up against harassment. Whenever you see or become aware of harassment, whether in the workplace, streets, home or the online space, raise your voice against it.
Find female mentors/leaders. Ensure that some of your role models or mentors are women. There’s a lot you can learn from women in positions of authority.
Share the workload at home. Sharing domestic responsibilities ensures the work burden doesn’t fall only on one person and instills the value of gender equality and essential life skills in children.
Stay informed. Follow your local news and stay in touch with the Luxury Beauty For Impact Global Goals: