2020 Index score: 55.2
2015 Index score: 50.4
Status: ‘Fast progress’ since 2015 and ‘very poor’ overall score
2020 Global ranking: 113 of 144 countries
2020 Regional ranking: 10 of 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa
Senegal’s score on the 2022 SDG Gender Index presents a mixed picture for gender equality. The country has an overall Index score of 55.2 (‘very poor’). And yet Senegal is in the top 10 fastest-moving countries in the Index overall, making ‘fast progress’ of almost 5 points since 2015.
Senegal has performed best on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on water, SDG 11 on sustainable cities, SDG 8 on work, and SDG 2 on nutrition. Progress has been driven by improved performance on indicators about access to clean water (Ind. 6.1), levels of CO2 emissions (Ind. 11.2), and undernourishment (Ind. 2.1). The country has also outperformed the regional average for two indicators under SDG 17 on partnerships: transparent national budgets (Ind. 17.3) and coverage of disaggregated statistics (Ind. 17.4).
The country has seen a marked improvement too in its score for SDG 8 on work, rising from 54 points in 2015 to 65 in 2020. This ‘fast progress’ has been driven by strong 2020 scores on wage equality (Ind. 8.1), women in vulnerable work (Ind. 8.2) and collective bargaining rights (Ind. 8.3). Senegal’s overall score for SDG 8 remains just ‘poor’, however, due to ‘very poor’ performance on laws on workplace equality (Ind. 8.4) and women holding bank accounts (Ind. 8.5).
There has been mixed performance on other goals. On SDG 4 on education, Senegal has performed ‘very good’ on limiting the number of over-age girls in primary education (Ind. 4.1) but ‘very poor’ on girls’ expected years of schooling (Ind. 4.2) and the proportion of women with some secondary education (Ind. 4.4). This suggests national-level investment in girls’ primary education is not translating necessarily into improved outcomes for girls in later life.
Similarly, gains in women’s political representation do not automatically lead to equality in political power. Often lauded as a case study for quotas – the proportion of women in parliament (Ind. 5.4) was at 86 points (‘good’) in 2020 (equivalent to women representing 43% of parliament). Senegal scores just 44 (‘very poor’) for the share of women in ministerial roles (Ind. 5.5) in 2020.
Fast progress towards gender equality has not been enough to lift Senegal’s overall score above very poor.
Reflections from Réseau Siggil Jigéen (RSJ)
Senegal scores 55.2 on the 2022 SDG Gender Index, which, despite having improved by almost five points since 2015, means that the country still had a ‘very poor’ performance on gender equality in 2020.
The Senegalese government has demonstrated its unequivocal political will to integrate gender into public action. There has been constitutional recognition of the principle of gender equality, plus the ratification of conventions protecting women’s rights and governmental directives in favour of taking a gender dimension into account.
However, despite the establishment of gender promotion units in the various ministries, a review of the National Strategy for Gender Equality and Equity, and a Direction de l’Équité et de l’Égalité de Genre [Directorate for Equity and Gender Equality – DEEG], interventions by ministries still do not necessarily consider gender.
The government has taken few, if any, concrete steps to ensure that women’s and girls’ rights to safety are upheld. And the fundamental rights of girls and adolescents are at risk in a culture of trivialization and impunity.
In addition to gaps in capacity and learning conditions which continue to undermine school enrolment, there are other barriers to keeping girls in school. For example, unplanned pregnancies – especially in child marriages – continue to occur even though guidelines have been designed on educating young mothers. Indeed, many young mothers drop out of school, and they do not always have access to literacy programmes and skills training that are adapted to their circumstances. In turn, the lack of training, especially in rural areas, keeps young mothers in unstable and low-income work.
Some girls miss school because of the lack of proper sanitation facilities or access to sanitary products. This injustice has been raised by youth movements, but the authorities are not taking any concrete action. In addition, studies have shown that violence against girls, including sexual violence, occurs within the school environment.
Since teachers lack awareness on these issues, they have neither the skills nor the knowledge to intervene. The school environment is not yet sufficiently safe or adapted to the needs of girls – let alone the needs of girls with disabilities and young mothers to enable an inclusive education.