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 attended the Women Deliver conference in Vancouver.
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.
The new index ranks 129 countries on dozens of SDG targets related to women, be it health, education, violence or work.
Denmark, Finland and Sweden topped the list, while Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad came bottom. Nearly 40% of girls and women
- 1.4 billion live in countries graded "very poor;" another 1.4 billion in countries graded "poor." Only 8% of girls and women live in countries ranked "good." No country achieved an "excellent" score, while the global average was "poor."
Philanthropist Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a conference speaker, described the report as "a wake-up call to the world."
But Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030), the partnership behind the index, also noted some surprising success stories.
Senegal has a greater proportion of women in parliament (42%) than Denmark (37%), while three in four Kenyan women use digital banking
higher than many wealthier countries. "Many countries with the most limited resources are making huge strides in removing the barriers for girls and women ... demonstrating that when it comes to gender equality, governments shouldn't have excuses for inaction," Gates said.