Since gender inequality constitutes one of the history’s most persistent and widespread forms of injustice, eliminating it will call for one of history’s biggest movements for change. Women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world. Gaps in gender equality exist in every sector. In South Asia, only 74 girls were enrolled in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. However, by 2012, the enrolment ratios were the same. In 155 countries, at least one law exists which impedes women’s economic opportunities. Women in most countries on average earn only 60% to 75% of wages paid to men. Only 22.8% of all national parliamentarians are women. One in three women experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.
Why is this important?
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world. The exclusion of women places half of the world’s population outside the realm of opportunity to partner in building prosperous societies and economies. Equal access to education, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision making processes are not only rights women should have, they benefit humanity at large. By investing in the empowerment of women, we not only make progress on Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, we also make gains on the alleviation of poverty and fuel sustainable economic growth.
What can we do to address this?
Goal 5 aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in the public and private spheres and to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources and access to ownership of property.
Goal 5 and India
Although India has achieved gender parity at the primary education level and is on track to achieve parity at all education levels, as of August 2015, the proportion of seats in Parliament held by women had only reached 12% against the target of 50%. India is also confronting the challenge of violence against women. As an example, a baseline study revealed that in New Delhi, 92% of women had experienced some form of sexual violence in public spaces during their lifetime. The Government of India has identified ending violence against women as a key national priority, which resonates with the Sustainable Development targets of the United Nations on gender equality. The prime minister’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative aims at equal opportunity and education for girls in India. In addition, specific interventions on female employment, programmes on the empowerment of adolescent girls, the Sukanya Samridhi Yojana on girl child prosperity and the Janani Suraksha Yojana for mothers advance India’s commitment to gender equality, and the targets of Goal 4.
- End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
- Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
- Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
- Recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
- Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
- Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.
- Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
- Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
- Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.