On July 18, 2023, the United Nations Development Program and UN Women released a new report assessing the state of women’s rights around the globe, with particular regards to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The report, The paths to equal: Twin indices on women’s empowerment and gender equality, introduces a new framework for measuring women’s empowerment and gender equality across the world and explores two new indices: the Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI) and the Global Gender Parity Index (GGPI).
The WEI is a composite index that measures women’s empowerment across five dimensions: life and good health, education, skill-building and knowledge, labor and financial inclusion, participation in decision-making, and freedom from violence. The GGPI is a composite index that measures “the relative achievements between women and men” across four dimensions: life and good health, education, skill-building and knowledge, labor and financial inclusion, and participation in decision-making. Together, the two indices help answer two important questions: Are women and girls more empowered to make their own choices and seize opportunities in life, and has gender parity been achieved?. The indices also allow policymakers to track their progress towards achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality and compare their progress with other countries.
The report, utilizing data from 114 countries and the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizes key statistics surrounding women’s rights. Significantly, the report found that less than 1 percent of women and girls, globally, live in a country with high women’s empowerment and a low gender gap. Out of the 114 countries, none have achieved full women’s empowerment and gender parity. From these findings, the report outlines policy recommendations in each of the five dimensions referenced above. These recommendations emphasize the needs of women and girls, the importance of addressing gaps in skills and education, recognizing the economic value of women’s unpaid labor, removing barriers for participation, and eliminating discriminatory laws to address gendered violence.
These policy recommendations hope to “bring about normative and structural shifts, enlarge opportunities and ensure capabilities for women and girls to lead a life they value and have reason to value.” Alongside other investments in the human rights of women and girls, these recommendations “set the basis for delivering on the promises of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
For Channel grantee partners, such as WILPF, IWRAW AP, and GNWP, all of whom work on advocacy at the global UN level, the findings and indices from this report provide evidence-based data in which to evaluate and compare their progress. With the Women’s Empowerment Index and the Global Gender Parity Index, these organizations can evaluate their efforts to achieve full women’s empowerment and gender parity and make changes that will align with the policy recommendations included in the report.