38% Policymakers In India Know Little or Nothing About SDGs: Survey

A survey of policymakers across five countries – Colombia, Kenya, India, Indonesia and Senegal—on gender equality in their respective countries has show how little they actually know.


When asked about their awareness of the SDGs – which contain ambitious commitments to achieve gender equality by 2030, including a specific gender equality goal (Goal 5) and references to gender equality throughout the SDG framework (13 out of 17 goals), the awareness of policymakers of the SDGs was quite high - nearly eight in ten policymakers either knew “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about the SDGs, though it varied by country.


However, the highest proportion of policymakers with not much or no knowledge of the SDGs was found in India (38%). In Kenya, 65% of policymakers reported knowing “a great deal” about the SDGs, compared to 29% in Senegal, India (27%) and Colombia (20%).


When asked to estimate the rate of maternal deaths in their country (the number of women dying from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth), only 6% of policymakers came within 20% of the most recently available figure.


On the rates of early marriage for girls, just a quarter of policymakers came within 20% of the most recently available figure with the Columbian policymaker’s estimates of the percentage of girls married before the age of 18 ranged from 4% to 80% (the most recently available data says 23%).


In Kenya, when asked to estimate what percentage of parliamentary seats are held by women, the policymakers’ estimates ranged from 6% to 90% (the most recently available data says 21%).


Indian policymakers’ estimates of the percentage of women in the labour force ranged from 20% to 70% (the most recently available data says 27%).


The wide variation in responses raises questions about whether policymakers are aware, have access to or are sufficiently guided by the relevant, current data needed to assess progress for girls and women towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the survey  "Policymakers and Gender Equality: What They Know and How They Know It, " carried out by Equal Measures 2030, a civil society and private sector led partnership that aims to connect data and evidence with advocacy and action, helping to fuel progress towards gender equality.


By surveying policymakers in five countries, this research seeks to shed light on the following questions: How do policymakers perceive progress on gender equality in their countries? What most needs to change in order to improve gender equality? What data and evidence do they rely on to make their decisions? How confident are they in their understanding of the major challenges affecting girls and women in their countries?


Across the five countries researchers found that half of the policymakers felt that gender equality gets too little attention in policymaking in their country, with considerable variation in the views of the men and women surveyed (67% of women stated this, compared with 33% of men).


One in five men felt there was too much attention to gender equality in policymaking. Gender equality concerns are seen to be given much more importance in some policy areas than others. For example, four fifths of policymakers thought that gender equality concerns were given a “high” or “very high” priority when setting policy on education, whereas just 38% thought gender was given a “high” or “very high” priority when making decisions about public finance.


Regarding perception of data and evidence on gender equality in policymaking, policymakers surveyed said they often use government data (79%), international data, such as from the United Nations (47%) and academic or research institution data (41%). Just under half of policymakers rated government data sources as “very useful” (47%).


When asked about their perceptions of progress on gender equality, the policymakers spoken to were fairly positive with 66% believing that men and women in their country were more equal than five years ago. But the answers to this question varied widely by sex: While nearly eight in ten men thought that progress had been made on gender equality in the past five years, only 55% of women agreed this was the case. More than twice the number of women than men felt the situation had not changed or worsened (44% of women compared with 19% of men).

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