It’s an indisputable fact: women and girls are critical in the increased development of nations. Unfortunately, women’s rights and women’s empowerment are still major concerns globally with many gaps remaining in achieving gender equality.
Amazing progress has been made since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) thirteen-year-ago. Substantial gains have been made in primary education, poverty, and health, but achievements for women and girls have fallen short of meeting the MDG standards. Gender parity in education remains a concern, as does the reduction of maternal mortality, combating contraction of HIV/AIDS in women, and ending violence against women and girls (yep, that’s a lot of ground to cover).
In order to make women’s rights a global reality, it is critical to address the structural causes of gender inequality, like violence against women, unpaid care work, limited control over assets and property, and unequal participation in private and public decision-making.
This is where the the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) come in (for an in-depth understanding of the SDGs, read my colleagues Natalie Prolman’s excellent summary). What the post-2015 development agenda does is offer a real opportunity to make lasting change for women’s rights and equality, and to bring transformative change in women’s and men’s lives.
We, as global citizens, cannot afford to miss this opportunity to support world leaders in their commitment to ending gender inequality (to take action #showyourselfie, join action/2015, or attend become part of Global Citizen!).
Below, three ways that the Sustainable Development Goals can help transform the lives of women and girls. While progress towards gender equality may seem slow, what’s promising is that the personal is political - we all have the ability to make gender parity a focus in our lives!
1.) Addressing violence against women and girls
image by amelie via flickr
It’s a scary stat, but one in three women is likely to experience physical and sexual violence at some point in her lifetime. Violence against women and girls is a manifestation of gender-based discrimination. It’s a universal phenomenon that has tremendous costs for societies and is currently the most pervasive human rights abuse in the world today. When women and girls are in fear of gender related violence, social structures ravel. For example of this phenomenon, read my piece on femicide in Mexico.
Violence against women and girls must end!!! And the SDGs can help to stop gender violence by setting global standards on the issue!
2.) Expand women’s choices and capabilities
image by Khanh Hmoong via flickr
Currently, there exists a massive need to expand women’s choices and capabilities. Women and men need equal opportunities, resources and responsibilities, but many women do not have equal access to land, credit, natural resources, education, health services (including sexual and reproductive health). Decent work and equal pay needs to be addressed urgently in order to allow women more opportunities.
So how can women’s choices be expanded? Policies, such as childcare, parental leave, and improved access to infrastructure (think water and energy), are essential to reduce women’s unpaid work so that everyone can enjoy equality.
3.) Ensuring women’s voice in the private and public spheres
image by rakeshJV via flickr
Greater commitment must be made to women’s voice being heard not only in their households, but in public and private decision-making as well.
In order for their to be inclusive and meaningful democracies (including the US), women’s voices should be heard in decision-making processes in all areas of life - like in public and private institutions, national and local parliaments, media, civil society, in the management of firms, families and communities.
Women are not equally represented in positions of power, and this is not due to their lack of ability, but rather their lack of access. Let’s shatter the glass ceiling in 2015 and sign on to action/2015 to make gender parity a reality.
The post-2015 development agenda offers a real opportunity to drive lasting change for women’s rights and equality, and to bring transformative change in women’s and men’s lives. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity!
Let’s come together, as global citizens, in helping to assure that women and girls have all of the rights they deserve! A better world for women and girls, means a better world for us all!