Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls
Unveiling Global Goal 5.
In every society today, gender inequality is still ingrained and has varied impacts on women. Projections show that, at the current rate of development, it might take 286 years to end discriminatory legislation and gaps in legal protection. Equal participation in national parliaments might be achieved in about 47 years. However, achieving gender parity in leadership positions and influence within the workforce could take up to 140 years. Due to occupational segregation and wage differences based on gender, women continue to have few options to find quality jobs. Inequality is further exacerbated as many women still have limited access to fundamental development pillars like healthcare and education.
An essential component of sustainable development, gender equality is a fundamental human right. The world must work toward gender equality and give all women and girls more authority, according to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5). Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — fostering gender equality — is the focus of SDG 5, which seeks to advance this effort even further. It is important to note that improvements in gender equality have been made in the areas of political representation, employment, and education, according to the 2015 MDG Report. However, despite decades of MDG-related action execution, significant gaps still exist in several areas 2 . Goal 3 of the MDGs did not adequately address issues like violence against women, unequal distribution of unpaid caregiving responsibilities, and limited participation in decision-making processes outside of national parliaments, which is why SDG 5 was introduced. Tragically, women also experience the majority of violence and prejudice, which further marginalises and harms them.
The interdependence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) becomes evident when considering gender equality. Progress in each goal is closely linked to advancements in other areas, and vice versa. This is particularly important for gender equality because depriving the other half of humankind of their full human rights and opportunities prevents sustainable development and the realisation of human potential. The integration of a gender perspective is evident in the incorporation of 80 indicators related to gender across all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Why it matters
The world is currently not making sufficient progress toward achieving gender equality by 2030, and the consequences of the pandemic have exacerbated the situation. The social and economic impacts of the pandemic have further worsened the outlook for gender equality. Various areas, such as the equitable distribution of unpaid care and domestic work, decision-making power in matters of sexual and reproductive health, and the implementation of gender-responsive budgeting, are lagging in terms of progress 7 . Thus, raising many concerns on why achieving goal 5 is necessary for sustainable development. Now, let's examine some key facts and figures regarding the progress and challenges related to SDG 5, which focuses on gender equality.
Violence against Women
At least once in their lifetime, 26% of women who have ever been in a committed relationship and are 15 years of age or older (641 million) have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse by a husband or other intimate partner.
In a study conducted in 13 nations in 2021, 45% of women said they had personally suffered violence or knew someone who had since COVID-19.
In 2021, over one in five young women were married before becoming 18 years old.
Child marriage is common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, where it affects 35% and 28% of young women, respectively.
Although the rate of child marriage has decreased by 10% globally over the previous five years, the COVID-19 pandemic may result in the marriage of 10 million more girls by 2030.
Female Genital Mutilation
Today, predominantly in 31 countries, at least 200 million women and girls have experienced female genital mutilation.
As of January 2022, there were 26.2% more women than males in lower and single houses of national parliaments around the world, up from 22.4% in 2015.
If things continue as they are, it will be another 40 years before men and women are represented equally in national legislatures.
Just over one-third of local governments are made up of women.
Employment and Economic Impact
While women made up 39.4% of the workforce in 2019, the COVID-19 epidemic caused over 45% of all global job losses in 2020. Between 2015 and 2019, the percentage of women in managerial roles climbed from 27.2% to 28.3%, but it stayed the same in 2020.
Sexual and Reproductive Health
From 2007 to 2021, 57% of married or unionised women between the ages of 15 and 49 made their own decisions about having sex, using contraceptives, and receiving reproductive health care.
An estimated 1.4 million more unplanned pregnancies occurred in lower- and middle-income nations during the pandemic's first year.
Land Rights and Budget Allocation
Only 15 of the 52 reporting nations have adequate legal frameworks that protect women's rights to land.
Only 26% of nations between 2018 and 2021 had comprehensive systems in place to monitor public funding for gender equality, while 59% had some features of one, and 15% lacked the essential components.
In terms of women and girls, who make up half of the world's population and have enormous potential, gender equality is critically important. In addition to helping individuals and communities, tackling gender equality promotes economic growth and social development. Additionally, it is essential for advancing human rights, protecting human dignity, and successfully addressing global issues. Nevertheless, the achievement of SDG 5 continues to face several obstacles, including stereotypes, gender-based discrimination, and cultural norms. Girls and women encounter hurdles to obtaining a good education, financial resources, and leadership positions. Many societies continue to tolerate gender-based violence, which includes sexual harassment and domestic abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic has also made already existing gender disparities worse by creating economic uncertainty and obstructing access to crucial services.
To accelerate progress toward SDG 5, a multi-faceted approach is necessary.
Gender equality will continue to be nothing more than an unattainable objective without an increased commitment from the international community. Thus, there needs to be a significant political commitment and substantial financial support for efforts promoting gender equality. Funding initiatives that address gender inequities in healthcare, education, and economic empowerment fall under this category. Legislative changes are also essential to eradicating unfair practices and advancing equality. Fighting gender stereotypes and promoting gender equality from a young age are essential goals of education.
Secondly, it is crucial to encourage women to take on leadership roles and actively participate in decision-making. More inclusive policies and better outcomes for society as a whole can result from increasing the presence of women in the public, economic, and political spheres. Critical first steps include offering complete support services to victims of gender-based violence and addressing the underlying causes of violence.
For SDG 5 to be implemented successfully, cooperation and partnerships are crucial. Sharing best practices, resources, and expertise requires cooperation between governments, civil society organisations, the commercial sector, and international organisations. Equally important is enlisting men and boys as allies in the cause of gender equality.
Gender equality rights must be protected in every aspect of life if we are to achieve a just and sustainable planet. Discrimination and unfair treatment of people of different genders have an impact on all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To solve these issues and quicken the process of achieving gender equality, governments, organisations, and people must prioritise them and act jointly. In addition to being a matter of justice and human rights, achieving gender equality is essential for promoting social and economic development as well as for successfully resolving global issues. To remove current barriers, confront detrimental behaviors and prejudices, and create an environment that encourages women and girls to realise their full potential, it takes a collective effort and dedication from all parties involved. To advance gender equality, men and boys must actively engage in it.
 United Nations (2015). The Millennium Development Goals Report. [online]. Available at: https://bit.ly/3GNC2Sj
 UN Women (n.d.). Progress towards meeting the MDGs for women and girls. [online]. Available at: Progress towards meeting the MD Gs for women and girls
 United Nations General Assembly (2015). Resolution A/RES/70/1: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. [online]. Available at: https://bit.ly/3kqgf9R
 8 UN Statistics Division (2018). Gender-relevant SDG Indicators. [online]. Available at: https://bit.ly/3nUsPPr
 Affairs, U. N. D. of E. and S. (2019). The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019. United Nations Publication Issued by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 64. https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/%0Ahttps://www.unilibrary.org/content/books/9789210018098%0Ahttps://www.unilibrary.org/content/books/9789210478878