Gender equality is a right as fundamental as any other in the national and international bills of rights, because in the long run, discrimination against a gender consequently breeds violation of the discriminated persons’ other basic rights such as education and expression.
It is a necessary piece in the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous world, and its observation can help fuel economic growth and benefit societies and the human race at large.
At the September 2015 global summit held in New York, Gender Equality and Girl and Women Empowerment was the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) discussed and the following targets were set with regard to achievement of the goal by 2030:
1. End all forms of gender inequality, particularly discrimination against women and girls, all over the world. While there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of women who are fully enjoying their rights in most countries in developing regions, the UN still believes total eradication of discrimination against girls and women is an achievable goal. In developed nations too, there have been a few cases of gender inequality, particularly in the form of domestic violence, but this has been left to respective governments to deal with.
2. Ward off all forms of violence against girls and women both in the private and public spheres, including sexual and trafficking and other forms of exploitation.
3. Eliminate all harmful practices against women such as female genital mutilation (FGM), and early, child and forced marriages. In many countries in Africa, these practices are cultural and traditional, and not just arbitrary, which makes them relatively difficult to eliminate. The UN however had earlier announced a substantial decrease in FGM cases, but still cases of early, child and forced marriage are unchanged, or at least are decreasing at a marginal rate. The way out of this, the UN believes, is by enlightening men and women in the affected regions on the negatives of these practices and the positives of not engaging in them.
4. Value and pay unrecognised domestic work and care through building of infrastructure, provision of public services such as health, transport and communication, formulation and implementation of social protection policies, and encouraging shared responsibility at household and family levels as both nationally and internationally appropriate. Currently, even in developed countries, women are charged with most of the household chores and responsibilities, denying them enough personal time for leisure and paid work in the process
5. Ensure women fully participate and are equally represented in all levels of national leadership and decision-making in economic, political and social aspects of life. A major reason why women are still lagging behind socially and economically in most developing countries is because they do not have enough representatives of their own in governmental and political positions to air their views and grievances on their behalf. Largely due to educational qualification barriers, women representative positions are either given to under-qualified women or even men who have little or no knowledge of what exactly the challenges faced by women are.
6. Ensure easy access of women and girls to reproductive and sexual rights in accordance with the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.
7. Formulate and execute social reforms to grant women equal ability to access economic resources, financial services, and ownership and control of properties such as lands and homes, in accordance with respective national laws. A very big problem in most developing countries, especially African, as far as ownership and control of property is concerned, lies with inheritance.
Most ethnic traditions in these countries do not give the girl child equal rights to inheritance of parental property, and this has, in some countries, been assimilated into national law. The UN’s first plan is to influence countries with these kinds of laws to adjust them to accommodate equality, before ensuring they are implemented, and finally educating the whole society on gender equality and why they should embrace it.
8. Promote the use of modern technology, especially in the field of information and communication, to enhance women empowerment. Through the use of computers and internet-accessing phones women can interact and learn from their counterparts in developed nations through social media platforms and open discussion forums.
9. Create and promote sound policies and executable legislation to enhance gender equality and girl and women empowerment at all levels.
SDG 5 Targets are Crucially Important
One of the main targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 3) was to ensure gender equality is achieved all across world, and particularly in most developing countries, where the culture is cemented.
While the program has achieved some remarkable results especially since the turn of the century, a good number of women around the world are still subject to domestic violence and discrimination, and statistics project a possible upsurge in the coming years if the right measures are not immediately put in place.
Statistics show that over the past two decades, around two thirds of the world’s developing countries have achieved gender equality in primary education. In most parts of Southern Asia, for instance, there were 74 girls enrolled in primary school per every 100 boys back in 1990, but as of 2012, enrolment ratios for boys and girls in this region had balanced. In a few other developing nations, though, particularly in Africa, gender parity is still a challenge as female children still face barriers to obtaining both primary and secondary education.
In leadership, men still hold most of the hottest government seats in developing countries, partly because a bigger proportion of the current generation of adult females lack the level of education required to obtain these jobs. Nonetheless, there has been an improvement on this lately, as women now hold more than a third of the seats in at least one chamber in the national parliaments of developing countries. The proportion of women holding paid jobs outside the Agricultural sector in North Africa has also increased to 41% in 2015 from 35% in 1990. Their proportion in the agricultural sector, however, is still underwhelming as only one out of five workers in the industry is a woman.
Women make up for a very vital part of our economic, social and political lives, but then due to discrimination against them, their potentials and utility never get to be exploited fully in developing countries. If this SDG 5 and its targets gets to be achieved before 2030 and all women get equal chance and freedom to contribute to the development of their countries, hunger and poverty cases will reduce significantly, and by the end of the century more than half of the third world countries will have fully developed.