Closing gaps in legal protections and removing discriminatory laws against women at current rate could setback achieving global gender equality by 286 years, a report by United Nations Women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs said on Wednesday.

In 2015, the UN had set gender equality as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a target that the global body sought to achieve by 2030.

However, The Gender Snapshot 2022 report said that recent developments such as Covid-19 pandemic, backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence against women and climate and humanitarian crises have increased risks for women and girls.

“The pandemic also placed girls at greater risks of gender-based violence, mental health disorders, and food and economic insecurity,” the report said, citing a study conducted by African countries.

Women around the world lost an estimated $800 billion (Rs 63.71 lakh crore) in income in 2020 due to the pandemic, the report said.

The pandemic also led to an increase in cases of violence and conflicts against women.

“Globally, one in every ten women and girls aged 15-49 was subjected to sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner in the previous year,” it said.

Women’s right to reproductive health has also suffered a set back in several countries, including the United States. On June 24, the US Supreme Court had overturned the landmark 1973 Roe versus Wade ruling that had made abortion a constitutional right.

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The study found that 1.2 billion women and girls of reproductive age live in countries that have some restrictions on safe abortion, while 102 million reside where abortion is prohibited completely.

Women’s representation in positions of power and decision-making is also below parity, the report said. In July, women held only 26.4% of parliamentary seats globally and in 23 countries, their representation was below 10%, the study found.

“It will take 140 years for women to achieve equal representation in leadership positions in the workplace, and 40 years for the same to happen in national Parliaments,” it said.

The invasion of Ukraine in February has also worsened food insecurity and hunger. The report estimated that if current trends continue, more women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa will live in extreme poverty by 2030 in comparison to 2022.

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous said that the world has reached a tipping point for women’s rights and gender equality as we reach the halfway mark to 2030.

“The data show undeniable regressions in their [women and girls] lives made worse by the global crises – in incomes, safety, education and health,” said Bahous. “The longer we take to reverse this trend, the more it will cost us all.”