Global Shocks Impede Gender Equality Progress in Africa, UN Warns

Recent global crises threaten to derail progress towards gender equality in Africa, according to a senior official at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Oliver Chinganya, Director of the African Center for Statistics at UNECA, made the remarks during the opening of the Africa Gender Statistics Forum. The forum, held virtually and in Gaborone, Botswana, from July 8-12, focuses on “Pooling Together for Gender Statistics: Financing the Numbers that Make Women and Girls Count.”

“Africa’s financing landscape has been significantly worsened by recent global shocks,” stated Chinganya. He cited the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and climate threats as contributing factors. This complex situation, he added, widens the existing funding gap for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa, currently estimated at $1.3 trillion annually.

Chinganya highlighted a concerning projection: at the current pace, Africa won’t achieve gender equality until 2094. He further emphasized the lack of standardized collection and use of gender data across Africa as a major obstacle hindering progress.

The forum aims to address this challenge by exploring ways to link financing with improved gender statistics. UNECA urges African nations to collaborate by sharing best practices and developing unified strategies to streamline, standardize, and enhance the collection and utilization of gender data. This, they emphasize, is crucial for informed decision-making towards achieving gender equality.

“Harmonized, high-quality statistics are the foundation for effective decision-making,” stressed Chinganya. He explained how such data empowers African governments to identify the most impactful approaches for tackling development issues, particularly those specifically impacting women.

The forum also recognizes the potential of new technologies, including geographic information systems, to improve data collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and archiving. This would ultimately facilitate better access to national, sub-regional, and regional gender data repositories.

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