In the month of September, world leaders, private sector leaders, civil society organizations, religious groups and young people gathered at the United Nations to adopt a new sustainable development agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals that provide renewed hope and a road map that will guide the international community on a path towards shared prosperity, improved lives and a better planet for all. Specifically on women and girls, the 2030 agenda seeks to realize the human rights of all, to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women as outlined in Goal 5. As the dust settles on the streets of New York, let us take a moment to reflect on what lies at stake for women and girls in the years to come.
An Agenda for Every Woman and Girl:
A stand-alone goal on gender with gender-sensitive targets is the first step in the right direction as far as women and girls are concerned. However, having learned from missed opportunities in the implementation of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), many feel that the SDGs are more comprehensive, inclusive and ambitious than the previous agenda. For one, gender is mentioned throughout the document and therefore creating the much needed linkages to diverse aspects of sustainable development. This is seen for example in the recognition of special needs and rights of women and girls in goals pertaining to environment, climate change, food security, water and sanitation and economic growth.
Secondly, while the gender equality goal (Goal 3) of the MDGs focused specifically on the gender parity in primary education, share of women in wage employment and the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments; the gender equality goal (Goal 5) of SDGs has gone above and beyond these three areas with the intention of dismantling longstanding systemic discrimination and address structural barriers that limit women and girls advancement and rights. This include as eliminating discrimination and harmful traditional practices such as child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), ending violence against women/girls in both public and private spheres, recognizing and valuing unpaid care and domestic work. The goal also calls for equal women’s rights to economic resources, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and the use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) to promote the empowerment of women.
Lastly, women and girls must not be paid lip service. The achievement of the gender equality goal can only become a reality with the dedicated and consistent investment and resource coupled with the right data that will allow for monitoring and accountability.
We need commitment to unprecedented levels of financing – in scale, scope, and quality – to implement gender equality objectives of the SDGs, from all sources, at all levels. –Financing:Why it Matters for Women and Girls
As we go into the phase of making the Sustainable Development Goals our reality, we must remember we can not attain any of the SDGs without empowering women and girls. This calls for continued commitment and diligence that has been demonstrated by all stakeholders – an invitation to co-create an equal world for women and girls around the world.
Illustrations for the SDG campaign have been made for Girls’ Globe by artist Elina Tuomi.