Imagine a world where every girl goes to school, no girl is forced into early marriage, more women serve in parliament and positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to promote gender equality. Sadly, this imagination is contrary to the real-world situation as gender inequalities are still deeply rooted in many societies. In several contexts, women and girls are denied access to basic education and health care. Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership. They spend about three times as many hours in unpaid care and domestic work than men and they often have limited influence over important household decisions(1). Many women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. In 2017, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 16.0% below those of men in the EU(2). This indicates that the issue of gender wage gap remains a major issue even in Western societies.
Harmful practices, such as child marriage, steal the childhood of 15 million girls below age 18 every year, while the COVID-19 lockdown further increasing domestic violence against women and girls in many countries(3).
The SDG5 aims to address these challenges to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The goal seeks to end all forms of discrimination and violence against all women and girls and to promote equal rights and opportunities for women and men everywhere.
Unfortunately, progress made so far in trying to achieve gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights could be reversed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic(4), intensifying the existing inequalities across all sectors. Hence, achieving gender equality by 2030 requires urgent action to eliminate the many root causes (such as patriarchy, racism and stereotypes) of gender discrimination that still impede women’s rights in private and public spheres.
The vital role of women and the need for their full and equal participation at all levels of society and political leadership should be reemphasised and explicitly discussed across all sectors. Fair representation of women in pandemic-related roles, from community to policymaking levels, is essential. In addition, the need to curb archaic cultural practices and harmful laws that limit the rights of women and girls need to be considered as a vital focus of gender campaigns and programs.
Find our more: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal5
(1) United Nations(UN): The Sustainable Development Goal Report, 2020 (p. 35).
(2) European Commission (EC): SustainableDevelopment in the European Union, 2019 (p. 117).
(3) United Nations (UN):The SustainableDevelopment Goal Report, 2020 (p. 34).
(4) UN Women: Policy Brief TheImpact of COVID-19 on Women, 2020.