It’s (still) A Man’s World As Equality Pledges Fail 1.4 Billion Women

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World leaders are failing 1.4 billion girls and women on promises of a fairer future, according to a global index launched at the world’s biggest gender equality conference.

The research shows the world is way off track to meet a 2030 deadline for achieving gender equality, with not one country having reached the “last mile”.

Some 8,000 delegates from 165+ countries – from world leaders to grassroots activists – are attending the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver.

Speakers include the founder of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, a Nigerian woman kidnapped by Boko Haram jihadists and a Pakistani squash champion who evaded the Taliban by living as a boy.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who describes himself as a feminist, will open the event on Monday, launching four days of debates on everything from climate change and gender to women’s political empowerment.

Abortion rights will also be a hot issue amid concern over new restrictions imposed by a wave of U.S. states.

Katja Iversen, president of Women Deliver, said the world had reached a “tipping point” on gender equality.

“(There are) conservative winds – sometimes it feels like a storm – blowing against women’s rights,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But she also saw a “super momentum” on gender equality and urged everyone to “dream big”.

In 2015, world leaders did just that when they placed girls and women at the heart of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promising sweeping transformations by 2030.

WIN-WIN

Another key report to be launched at the conference will look at the future of work and the implications for women of increasing automation, while a third study will examine how to get men to share the burden of unpaid care work.

Iversen said investing in women created a ripple effect that also buoyed families, communities, countries and economies.

“We have dug deep into the evidence and it really shows that a gender equal world is healthier, wealthier, more productive, and more peaceful,” she said.

“If we had gender equality in the work place we could add 26% to GDP – that’s a lot of money,” she added, citing a study by McKinsey Global Institute.

Iversen said she was encouraged to see increasing numbers of countries with gender-equal cabinets and more multinationals putting women in leadership positions.

But Iversen said it was not about power battles.

“Gender equality is also good for men and boys. It’s not women against men, girls against boys. It really is a win-win.”

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