Since world leaders first agreed to work towards achieving the UN's Global Goals by 2030, progress on gender equality had been slow but steady; today, because of the compounding global crises over the last few years, this progress has stalled and the fight for gender equality needs more attention now than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, escalating unemployment, the climate emergency, and a global hunger crisis have made it that much harder to end extreme poverty by the 2030 deadline. But as everyone deals with the fallout of these intertwining crises, it’s women and girls who are dealt the hardest blows.

Women and girls are more likely to live in extreme poverty. In times of conflict, women experience higher rates of gender-based violence; when food is short, they eat least and eat last. Girls are less likely than boys to get an education in developing nations due to gender bias, a lack of access to proper sanitation and menstrual health products, and familial duties that fall disproportionately on their shoulders.

For these reasons and many more, Global Citizens around the world are uniting in taking action for gender equity ahead of this year's Global Citizen Festival in New York City.

Taking place on the Central Park’s Great Lawn on Sept. 23, Global Citizen Festival will be headlined by Jung Kook, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Anitta — with Conan Gray, D-Nice, and Sofia Carson also set to perform; against a backdrop of world leaders gathering in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly. Stray Kids had been set to perform but due to an unforeseen accident, we will be joined by 3RACHA, which features three members of Stray Kids, Changbin, Bang Chan, and Han.

We’re calling on the world’s most powerful to ramp up their investments in women’s health, education, and nutrition. Why? Just take a look at the facts we’ve laid out below that highlight how investing in women improves gender equity and can transform lives, communities, and countries.

1. Educated girls earn more money.

According to UNICEF, 129 million girls are out of school worldwide; in regions affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school than girls who live in non-affected areas. When girls cannot go to school, they are three times as likely to marry by age 18 because of familial pressure, poverty, or a lack of alternative options.

Educated girls can secure their own futures. When girls have equal access to education, they earn more money, face less discrimination, and are able to invest in their communities. In fact, every additional year of primary school increases girls' eventual wages by 10-20%, according to UN Women.

2. Access to contraception and reproductive health services saves lives.

Women’s lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights remains one of the world’s biggest challenges. Each year, 74 million women living in low- and middle-income countries report unintended pregnancies, which contribute to higher rates of unsafe abortions and maternal deaths.

Women who have access to contraception are empowered to choose whether or not they’re ready to start a family and can participate in paid employment opportunities. As a result, maternal deaths decrease and children grow up healthier and better educated.

3. Access to sanitary products improves girls’ attendance in school.

Girls in developing nations already face significant barriers to accessing their right to an education, so having a period shouldn’t be another thing that gets in their way. Unfortunately, nearly 1 in 5 girls miss school because of a lack of access to period products.

When schools have access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, girls can confidently manage their periods without having to stay home and miss out on school. In fact, a pilot program in Zimbabwe found that menstrual education, period products, and WASH interventions improved the school attendance of girls by over 30%.

4. Women farmers improve food security.

COVID-19 and Russia’s war in Ukraine have disrupted global food chains and exacerbated the hunger crisis, plunging millions of people into acute food insecurity. While developing nations are impacted the most by the hunger crisis, a 2022 report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that the prevalence of food insecurity is higher among women than men in every region of the world.

Women are important producers on smallholder farms, despite structural barriers that prevent them from accessing the same amount of land, livestock, and credit opportunities as men. When they are given the same access to these resources, FAO estimates that women’s agricultural input could rise by 20-30%, enabling them to support themselves and their communities.

5. Recognizing the care economy reduces the burden of unpaid care work on women.

Unpaid care work, or the domestic responsibilities that enable families and communities to function, is disproportionately taken on by women and girls. As a form of invisible labor, the care economy is responsible for 9% of the world’s economic output, but is often undervalued and unrecognized by world leaders.

According to the Canadian government, projects aimed at recognizing the care economy have been shown to reduce the burden of domestic duties on women in developing nations and allow them to pursue financial empowerment. What’s more, engaging men and boys in the care economy has successfully redistributed domestic duties and changed mindsets on unpaid care work in communities across Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Rwanda.

6. Equal pay decreases the number of women living in poverty.

In many industries and all around the world, women are paid less for equal work and are more likely to hold seasonal, part-time, and low-wage jobs in comparison to men. As nearly 388 million women and girls live in extreme poverty, the case for equal pay has become even more urgent due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eliminating systemic barriers that have allowed women to remain far behind men financially, could lift them out of poverty. For example, as women’s wages and labor force participation have increased in Latin America and the Caribbean, poverty levels have dramatically decreased, according to the World Bank.

7. Women in politics shine a light on gender inequality.

In recent years, there has been meaningful progress in the number of women participating in politics, but the world is still far from reaching gender parity. Globally, women only make up 26.5% of members of parliament, and there are just 31 countries where women serve as heads of state.

Studies conducted in countries where women serve in policy-making roles have found that gender equality issues are addressed more often; by working across party lines and engaging in women’s conventions, legislators in these countries have helped spotlight the importance of women’s rights and concerns.

The global challenges of the last few years have threatened our ability to achieve gender equality, but we’re not giving up. Women have been able to make incredible strides to improve their lives and livelihoods, but it will take continued investment from world leaders to keep the momentum going to 2030 and beyond.

We can’t do it without you. By taking action with Global Citizen, you can call on world leaders to dismantle the systemic barriers that prevent gender equality from being realized through urgent funding commitments to women’s education, sexual and reproductive health, and nutrition.

Here’s how you can help right now: Share your thoughts with us on how women’s sexual health and reproductive rights can be improved in your country. You can also sign our petition asking world leaders to invest in unpaid care work. and call on Norway and other world leaders to fund the UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency. Taken those actions? Head to the Global Citizen app or our website to keep taking action for equity. 

Global Citizen Facts

Demand Equity

7 Facts That Show the Power of Investing in Women to Fight for Gender Equity

By Jaxx Artz