Gender discrimination inhibits global efforts to tackle the climate crisis, says new SIGI report


18/07/2023 - Although many countries around the world have stepped up their efforts to tackle hidden and deep-rooted barriers to women’s empowerment over the last few years, major environmental, economic, and social challenges threaten to reverse the trend.

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) 2023 Global Report: Gender Equality in Times of Crisis uncovers gender-based discrimination in social institutions across 179 countries.

Between 2019 and 2023, an increasing number of countries have addressed discriminatory social institutions, notably through legal reforms aimed at breaking harmful patterns. Encouragingly, developing countries are bridging the gap with the developed countries. In 2023, 45% of the countries which exhibit very low levels of discrimination in social institutions are non-OECD countries. The report was launched today on the sidelines of Women Deliver 2023 Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, building on the SIGI 2023 dataset released at the sixty-seventh session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women in March.

With only seven years to go before the 2030 deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), progress towards gender equality remains fragile, too slow and heterogeneous. Globally, 40% of women live in countries where discrimination is high or very high. For example, deep-rooted discrimination within social institutions has led to enormous disparities in the division of power between men and women in the workplace. And while 93 countries have established political gender quotas at national level, there are still too few women in high-level jobs and political leadership positions. Women head-up only 15% of firms worldwide and hold only 25% of management positions.

It is in the family sphere that discriminations remain the highest. For instance, women continue to dedicate 2.6 times more hours on unpaid care and domestic work than men do. Likewise, in 2021, only 57% of women made their own  decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive healthcare.

In a special chapter, the SIGI report shows that gender discrimination inhibits global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Unequal access to land-use and ownership, imbalanced decision-making, unpaid care and domestic work, gender stereotypes and other forms of social and institutional discriminations prevent women from engaging fully in climate resilient agriculture, disaster risk reduction and renewable energy. Empowering them as agents of change would boost the world’s capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The report also reveals how climate change disproportionately affects women. When disasters strike, women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men. They also face many indirect threats in the aftermath of disasters, such as sexual and gender-based violence, early and forced marriages, loss of livelihood and access to education. Moreover, climate events such as drought and land degradation directly impact millions of women working in agriculture and/or in rural areas, forcing them to walk longer distances to collect water or biomass for energy purposes.

In addition, the untapped expertise and awareness of indigenous women on the front line of environmental and conservation initiatives could help find innovative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, empowering women working in agriculture and providing them with equal access to resources could increase the productive capacity of women-owned farms by 20% to 30% in developing countries.

Against this backdrop, the SIGI 2023 Global Report makes concrete policy recommendations for public, private, philanthropic and civil society actors:

  • Enact laws in favour of gender equality; or reform and amend laws that contain discriminatory provisions, including informal and customary ones, while placing further emphasis on law enforcement. 
  • Transform discriminatory social norms into gender-equitable ones. And include men and boys in promoting gender equality.
  • Improve access to information on disaster risk mitigation. And address the gender biases that have been limiting women’s opportunities in the energy sector.
  • Finance gender equality in the long-term, including key transformative actors such as feminist movements and  organisations working at community level.
  • Foster better collection of gender-disaggregated, gender-relevant and intersectional data and indicators.

Media queries should be directed to the OECD Development Centre’s Press Office: [email protected]; tel.: +33 145 24 82 96.

About the SIGI:

Since 2009, the SIGI has shed light on the structural and multiple barriers affecting women’s and girls’ lives in developing and developed countries. The SIGI is also one of the official data sources for monitoring Sustainable Development Goal indicator 5.1.1.: “Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex”.




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