Global We the Women survey reveals women’s resolve to champion rights, representation in government

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A large majority of women polled around the world say they are resolved to contribute to efforts to advance the rights and participation of women in government, according to a new United Nations survey released on Thursday 30 May 2024.

The “We the Women” survey reveals that despite facing a global backlash against women’s rights, 85 per cent of more than 25 000 women surveyed across 185 countries express willingness to contribute to advancing their rights.

Sixty per cent believe that women’s representation in leadership roles in their respective countries will improve over the next decade. Moreover, more than two-thirds of women worldwide assert the necessity of enhanced representation in leadership positions at both national and global levels to influence the future. An overwhelming 85 per cent of women identify themselves as advocates for women’s rights.

The new survey, conducted by the United Nations Office of Partnerships and the polling company John Zogby Strategies, reveals widespread optimism among women regarding a range of issues, even amidst the world’s concurrent pressing challenges, conflicts, and crises.

“This survey shows that even in the face of persistent pushback to advancing women’s rights and representation, women everywhere are showing determination and commitment to effect change and to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals,” said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed. “Women know that it is imperative to have a seat at the table and have decision-making power to get things done.”

“We started the We the Women Campaign to encourage women and girls worldwide to serve as role models and leaders”, said German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze. “To shine a light on women’s stories and how they broke through glass ceilings. To unlock the potential of every girl to improve her own life and her community. I am deeply impressed by the incredible number of women from all around the globe who have participated in the survey. They show that women around the world are calling for change and are willing to act. This is an inspiring call to action for all of us. I will continue to work hard together with my fellow sisters to answer this call and to improve women’s rights and gender equality.”

The survey serves as the cornerstone of the We the Women Campaign, launched by Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed and Minister Schulze in September 2023, on the margins of the SDG Summit. It is hoped that the insights obtained from the survey will inform the international community’s efforts to address global issues in the years ahead, including at the Summit of the Future scheduled for September 2024.

Most women report experiencing some level of progress in their lives over the past five years and anticipate further improvement in the next five — a solid majority (57 per cent) expect a better quality of life, with only nine per cent expecting it to worsen. Younger women exhibit a 20-points difference compared to older women about their future.  This prevailing optimism pervades every region with the highest levels in Africa (67 to 8 per cent), followed by Latin America (60 to 10 per cent), Western Europe and North America (53 to 12 per cent), and Eastern Europe (46 to 10 per cent).

Climate and conflict are top concerns

Despite optimism, significant challenges lie ahead. Roughly half of the women surveyed cite climate change, economic insecurity, and gender inequality as major concerns.

A striking 86 per cent of women globally anticipate being affected by climate change or foresee its impact on their health due to deteriorating air and water quality and increased occurrences of natural disasters.

More than half of the women respondents — and 70 per cent of women in Eastern Europe — express concerns about being affected by armed conflict or war in the next decade.

Women identified several barriers to realizing their potential, with mental health being a primary concern cited by 46 per cent, followed closely by family and childcare responsibilities (42 per cent), gender inequality in household tasks (41 per cent), inadequate access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (29 per cent), and domestic violence (27 per cent).

When it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), women prioritized SDG 3 on Good Health and Well-Being as most important to them (40 per cent), followed closely by SDG4 on Quality Education (38 per cent) and SDG 16 on Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (38 per cent).

On the issue of technology and artificial intelligence, about twice as many (45 per cent) view it as an opportunity rather than a threat, but women expect negative effects in certain areas of life. Two-thirds of women think AI is positive for their education, while less than one-third believe it can have a positive effect on their security and civil liberties.

The survey reveals a widespread dissatisfaction with the lack of international collaboration in addressing global challenges. Only 19 per cent believe countries are adequately cooperating to resolve conflicts, 21 per cent to tackle economic insecurity, and 30 per cent to address gender inequality — highlighting a perceived lack of effective multilateral action.

More than two-thirds of the survey’s respondents said women should have more leadership positions in international organizations, national and local governments (69 per cent), and that greater efforts are needed to collect women’s voices and aspirations on a regular basis (48 per cent) and have more consultations with women’s networks on global matters (41 per cent).

 

 

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