Data play an important role in determining policies, laws and budget decisions with a view to acquire gender equality under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Amid the pressing need for tools to support data-driven analysis, the Equal Measures 2030 (EM 2030) and partners launched the pilot SDG Gender Index 2019. The index report is titled 'Harnessing the Power of Data for Gender Equality. The 2022 SDG Gender Index is intended to propel action on gender equality. For example, the acceleration of action towards equality becomes resilient, sustainable and ultimately unstoppable. The index was created by Albert Motivans with Aurelie Acoca.
The SDG Gender Index 2019 included 51 indicators across 14 of the 17 SDGs and covered 1 29 countries. The 201 9 SDG Gender Index located, with just 11 years to go until 2030, nearly 40 per cent of the world's girls and women. And the 2022 SDG Gender Index covers 56 indicators across 14 of the 17 SDGs involving 144 countries. The SDG Gender Index 2022 protects 98 per cent of the world's population of girls and women.
Let's take a look at the performance of South Asian Countries in the 2019 and 2022 SDG Gender Indexes:
In the 2019 SDG Gender Index, six South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan) were included out of 129 countries. But in the 2022 SDG Gender Index, Afghanistan has been included instead of Bhutan, even though the position of Afghanistan is 143 just ahead of Chad (144) at the bottom. Among these six countries, three are very poor performers (Bangladesh with some progress, Pakistan with some progress and Afghanistan with a decline). And three countries are poor performers (India with fast progress, Nepal with fast progress and Sri Lanka with some progress).
The 2019 SDG Gender Index provided a snapshot of where the country stood right then, linked to the vision of gender equality set forth by the 2030 Agenda. Overall, the index found that across all the goals and indicators studied, no country had fully achieved the promise of gender equality, whereas the 2022 SDG Gender Index is the result of years of dialogues across our "global to local" partnership and beyond.
Despite being an early starter in the implementation of SDGs, the status of Bangladesh in the SDG Gender Index 2019 report was not highly satisfactory.
Bangladesh was placed 110th among 129 with a score of 49.2. And in the 2022 SDG Gender Index, Bangladesh is placed 107th out of 144 with a score of 57.7. Any score below 60 means that the condition of gender equality in that country is very poor.
Rate of the progress of Bangladesh
Bangladesh made "some progress" towards gender equality between 2015 and 2020, according to the index. Its score improved from 49.2 to 57.7 over time but the country retains a rating that is still only very poor and that is below the average score of Asia and the Pacific of 67.7 for 2020. Most of all, Bangladesh scores below the regional average for 11 of the 13 goals included in the index (there were not enough data to calculate a score for SDG 9 on Industry, Infrastructure, and innovation for Bangladesh, which scored only 28.1 in the 2019 Index).
In 2019, Bangladesh's highest SDG scores were on Hunger and Nutrition (80.1), Health (73.3) and Water and Sanitation (73.1), and in 2022 the highest SDG scores are on Water and Sanitation (78.3), Hunger and Nutrition (75.9), Cities and Communities (75.3) and Partnerships (71 .2).
In 2019, Bangladesh's lowest SDG scores were on Partnerships (16.2), Climate (21.8) and Industry, Infrastructure and Innovation (28.1). In 2022, the lowest scores are on Gender Equality (37.4), and Inequalities (38.6). Bangladesh has progressed in SDG-1 (Poverty), SDG-6 (Water and Sanitation), SDG-7 (Energy), SDG-8 (Work and Economic Growth), SDG-11 (Cities and Communities), SDG-13 (Climate), SDG-16 (Peace and Institutions) and SDG-17 (Partnerships). Bangladesh's performances have declined in SDG-2 (Hunger and Nutrition), SDG-3 (Health), SDG-4 (Education), SDG-5 (Gender Equality) and SDG-10 (Inequalities). Of 13 goals, Bangladesh's performance is fair under four goals, poor under three goals and very poor under six goals.
The 2019 SDG Gender Index report has emphasised that no one country would be the world's best or worst performer across all goals or all indicators. Countries were "Pockets of Progress" even among the Index's lower-achieving countries and regions. Denmark scored 89.3 making it the highest-ranked country in the index followed by Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden-the top ten countries in the world, according to the 2019 SDG Gender Index report. In the 2022 SDG Gender Index, Denmark scored 90.4 with the 1st position in the index followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Ireland-the top ten countries in the world.
In the 2019 index, the bottom ten countries were Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Yemen, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.
In the 2022 index, the bottom ten countries are Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Burundi, DR Congo, Niger, Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Chad.
The Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered the profound faultlines in gender equality that intensified consequences of the pandemic for girls and women. The 2022 SDG Gender Index points out that more than three billion girls and women continue to live in countries with 'poor' or 'very poor' scores. The index exhibits that no country has performed better in gender equality, and there is no best performer or top ten performers across all goals. The index is unique for three reasons. Firstly, it follows the structure of the SDGs, by adding a gender lens across each of the goals, secondly, it draws on available gender-related SDG indicators, and finally, it tracks progress over time from 2015 to 2020.
The overall performance of Bangladesh is very poor from the gender equality perspective. Maximum goals are still gender-blind. So, Bangladesh has a long way to go to achieve gender equality by 2030 as targeted in the SDGs.
Soma Dhar is a Ph.D. Scholar at the Department of Economics of the University of Chittagong
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