The world won’t reach gender equality until at least 2108—three generations later than we’d hoped, Melinda French Gates writes in Goalkeepers Report from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation referring to data partner Equal Measures 2030. “That data is screaming one thing: Gender equality is falling further and further out of reach. Why? One explanation is that big, global shocks like the pandemic disproportionately destroyed women’s livelihoods.”
However, she writes that blaming COVID-19 alone would be a cop-out: “We have to ask harder questions: Why do gender-neutral events like pandemics have gendered effects?”
“Here’s the honest answer: It’s because the world still hasn’t focused enough on gender equality—and when it does, it treats symptoms, not the cause.”
She says that the truth is that we were never on track to reach the UN’s sustainable Development Goal 5—global gender equality—by 2030.
“Development experts knew this before they even finalized the goals. But today, halfway to our deadline, progress remains slow, even stalling. Our data partner Equal Measures 2030 now estimates.”
“If you dig beneath the “years to gender equality” metric, you’ll see that economic inequality is one of those root causes.”
French Gates refers to the World Bank saying that the difference in expected lifetime earnings between women and men amounted to USD 172.3 trillion globally even before the pandemic—twice the size of the world’s annual gross domestic product.
“So we’ve got to keep asking questions: Once women have this money, can they actually spend it? Or do their husbands hold that power? When a woman secures a job, can she actually work and care for her children? Or is she set up to fail?”
“These questions illustrate the difference between theory and reality. Because when we create policies to change economic indicators, we might not be changing actual lives. We can’t just talk about empowering women without making sure they are actually gaining power in their families and communities.”
“We can’t just talk about empowering women without making sure they are actually gaining power in their families and communities.”