Media Centre - Media release - 8th March 2022

New study shows Australia has failed to make gender equality progress in last 5 years

Street safety Australia

It will be beyond the lifetime of a 10-year-old girl before all women in Australia say they feel safe walking alone at night, if current trends continue, according to a major new global report by a coalition including charity for girls’ equality Plan International.

It also found that Australia has failed to significantly advance gender equity in the last five years, with one in every three countries worldwide having made no progress at all or worse still, moving in the wrong direction.

The Back to Normal is Not Enough report and 2022 SDG Gender Equality Index released by Equal Measures – a coalition founded by prominent women’s and girls’ rights groups such as Plan International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – showed that Australia came 14th globally when it comes to gender equality, the same position it was ranked in 2019 and lagging behind New Zealand, Ireland and Spain.

The top three countries were Denmark, Sweden and Norway, while the US ranked 38th and the UK 18th.

The report also revealed that:

  • Australia ranks in the bottom 50% of countries in Asia and the Pacific on women’s perceptions of public safety
  • If current trends continue, an estimated 218.7 million women in Asia and the Pacific won’t have access to modern contraception in 2030
  • At the current rate, an estimated 470.2 million women in Asia Pacific will not have attained secondary education in 2030

Susanne Legena, CEO of Plan International Australia, the charity for girls’ equality, called the report a “wake-up call”.

“It is well documented that how we invest in and support 10-year-old girls today will determine what our world will look like in 2030. This report is a wake-up call: we need to do better, and invest now if we want to shift the dial on gender equality in Australia ” she said

The 2022 version of the Index, the most comprehensive global Index available to measure gender equality, has revealed that while the world has become more gender equal, it’s happening far too slowly.

Countries were assessed on their performance relative to the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Worryingly, the Index found that less than 25% of countries were making what would be considered fast progress towards gender equality and that at the current pace, the 2030 SDG deadline to achieve gender equality will not be met.

Girls and women’s street safety a major concern

The report also includes a forecasting calculator for several of the Index indicators, including women’s perceptions of public safety, access to family planning, attaining secondary education and workplace equality.

Just some of the shocking statistics uncovered include:

  • It will be beyond the lifetime of a 10-year-old girl before all women in Australia say they feel safe walking alone at night, if current trends continue.
  • If current trends continue, an estimated 465.4 million women in the Asia Pacific won’t feel safe walking alone at night in 2030.
  • Australia ranks in the bottom 50% of countries in Asia and the Pacific on women’s perceptions of public safety
  • Just 54% of Australian women aged over 15 feel safe walking alone at night in their home area.

“This report sounds the alarm on the lack of progress we’ve made and the significant gaps that remain for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” said Plan International Australia CEO Susanne Legena.

“It shows that as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the world is way off track on the SDGs. It also confirms that ‘getting back to normal’ is simply not ambitious enough, given that the ‘normal’ that prevailed before COVID-19 was failing to deliver progress at the scale, pace and intensity needed for sustainable gender equality,” she said.

“However, the report also spotlights that we have the solutions to fix this. At the level of the national average, progress on gender equality is in fact possible. This is the shot of hope we need. Every single one of us has the power to change the conversations happening around us, to hold governments to account for their policies and investments, or to use their voice to call for better and faster progress in their schools, workplaces and beyond. And that won’t only be good for girls – we know a gender equal world is better for everyone.’

Media contacts

Claire Knox

Public Relations Advisor
+61 452 326 549

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