Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India (© Gates Archive/Mansi Midha)

New report says we must change our approach to achieve gender equality

In 2015, leaders from 193 countries agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—big, bold goals to be achieved by 2030. Each year, the Goalkeepers Report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation attempts to reveal how the world is doing.

Seven years in, the 2022 Goalkeepers Report aims to help people understand what the numbers cannot say about progress. As the introduction explains, development experts had no idea seven years ago that a novel virus would appear, causing a once-in-a-century pandemic, or that wars would begin in Ukraine and Yemen or that the rights of women from Afghanistan to the United States would be flung back decades.

"As it stands now, we'd need to speed up the pace of our progress five times faster to meet most of our goals—and even that might be an underestimate, because some of the projections don't yet account for the impact of the pandemic, let alone the war in Ukraine or the food crisis it kicked off in Africa," Melinda French Gates and Bill Gates wrote. "As bad as the data makes it seem, the real situation might be even worse. Or it might be better. Because what's also not reflected in the numbers is the potential for human ingenuity."

In her essay titled "Gender equality depends on women having power, not just 'empowerment,' " French Gates asserts that economic progress for women is stalling worldwide—and not just because of COVID-19.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's data partner Equal Measures 2030 estimates that gender equality will not be reached until at least 2108. Why, after decades of efforts to improve the lives of women and girls, is equality still so far out of reach?

"Here's the honest answer: It's because the world still hasn't focused enough on gender equality—and when it does, it treats symptoms, not the cause," French Gates writes.

She goes on to explain that one of the root causes is economic inequality and says that we cannot talk about empowering women without making sure they are actually gaining power in their families and communities.

Click here to read the essay and find out what French Gates says is the key to the future of progress.

The 2022 Goalkeepers Report also shares the latest data on 18 key data indicators. Click here to read about the global progress for gender equality.