We still have significant gaps in gender equality, UN Women report reveals

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With just a few days remaining to International Women’s Day, the latest UN flagship report has revealed some significant gaps in gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.The report which was released on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 highlighted;

  • Inequalities and challenges faced by women.
  • Gaps and opportunities for gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

With the theme “Turning Promises into Action,” the report revealed the following: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • In 89 countries with available data, women and girls account for 330 million of the poor. This means that there are 104 women for every 100 men living on less than USD 1.90 (sh 190) a day. The gender gap is particularly wide during the reproductive years.
  • More than 50 percent of urban women and girls in developing countries lack at least one of the following: access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, durable housing, and sufficient living area.
  • One in 5 women under the age of 50 experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the past 12 months.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the world lost 3.3 million hectares of forest areas, affecting poor rural women who depend on common pool resources.


Image: ©UNWomen

Presenting the report, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said:

As a world, we committed through the SDGs to leave no one behind. This report’s new data and analysis underlines that, unless progress on gender equality is significantly accelerated, the global community will not be able to keep its promise.

Gender Equality in Kenya

A report by USAID Kenya revealed that;

Women in Kenya are underrepresented in decision-making positions.  They also have less access to education, land, and employment.  Those living in rural areas spend long hours collecting water and firewood; interfering with school attendance and leaving them with little time to earn money or engage in other productive activities.

In its efforts to change the grim picture of gender inequality, the Kenyan government, through its 2010 constitution provided that:

  • No more than two-thirds of any appointed or elected body can be of the same gender.
  • Kenya’s 47 counties elect a women’s representative.
  • Prohibits all forms of language that proves discriminatory against women.
  • The protection of women’s rights in matters relating to divorce, land, and property.

The aftermath of these constitutional changes saw a slight shift in the political scene in Kenya. Twenty-three women were elected to the National Assembly in 2017, a jump from 16 in the previous elections. However, the number is still far too low for the constitutional two-thirds gender requirement.

Although Kenya appears to be moving in the right direction in achieving gender equality, reports seem to suggest that there is still a lot more that needs to be done.

Image: ©Afrobarometer

Afrobarometer, a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and other related issues conducted a survey in Kenya in 2016. The report showed that despite gains in gender equality, support for women’s empowerment is still lagging behind. Some of the highlighted areas were; education, employment, gender harassment, gender-based violence, politics, economic empowerment, and many other areas.

The general revelation from all these findings depicts a picture that most Kenyans are aware of but fail to address. The nature of patriarchy demands that there be a reluctance by the already dominating male population to step aside or advocate for an environment in which women can flourish to their independence. Thus, more than just mere promises, it is indeed time for the government to “turn promises into action.”

Recommendations on fulfilling 2030 SDGs

Some of the recommendations from the UN Women report include:

  1. Integrated policies that can leverage synergies and help achieve several goals at the same time.
  2. More and better statistics as the lack of timely and regular gender data affect adequate monitoring.
  3. Closing the financing gap by;
  • Addressing unrecorded capital flight, including illicit financial flows in developing countries,
  • Reversing public expenditure cuts that erode safety nets and essential services.
  • Using all strategies available for raising domestic revenue.

4. Holding duty bearers accountable for gender equality commitments.


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