As the 71st UNGA quickly approaches, we must remind ourselves of the various goals which were finalized during the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. Although there is countless work that still remains, there are still portions of the infamous goals that have been addressed.
These 17 goals aim to ameliorate three major global issues: End Extreme Poverty, Fight Inequality and Justice, Fix Climate Change. These issues affect every individual despite their age, occupation or educational background. Many women have been tackling these goals before they were officially part of the SDGs. Women have always been one of the key factors in developing a strong foundation within homes, communities and society as a whole. As women, we often play the dual role of nurturing caretakers and fearless lionesses. We are able to engage with issues from both an emotional and logical perspective thus achieving optimal results. However, many women and girls are never given the opportunity to fulfill their leadership potential due to socioeconomic factors. In order to achieve the SDGs, every woman, girl and individual must have a role to play in this large undertaking. Goal # 1 calls for the end of poverty in all of its forms everywhere and goal # 2 aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
There are various organizations and initiatives which focus on the elimination of poverty as well as the development of a more accessible global food market. However, there are few projects which place women and girls equality at the forefront of every aspect within their program. The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index is a tool to measure the varying levels of empowerment that women hold in particular in marginalized areas. This tool is a key component of achieving goal #1 and 2 in widespread areas by using empirical evidence to show how women’s involvement in leadership and decision-making positions leads to short and long-term economic benefits as well as an overall success within a family unit or community. This particular tool takes a unique approach to addressing gender parity and engulfs it within the various indicators and structures of the program. The index defines an empowered woman as an individual with a certain level of achievement within various agricultural-based realms such as economic security, leadership responsibilities and agricultural influence.
So how do YOU define empowerment?
- Physical Strength
- Self Confidence
Many women and girls within rural and farming communities face countless challenges throughout their lives and have found ways to incorporate those obstacles into an impactful narrative. Their life journeys have been shaped and transformed by the hardships, lessons, and the wealth of knowledge shared through their families and farming communities. I met Karyssa Zavala at the 2016 Gender 360 Summit in DC, an official side event of the White House United State of Women Summit, and after a short conversation, I felt as if I had known her for years. Her warm demeanor and welcoming smile weren’t just surface introductions; she is a caring woman with a desire to help the farming community. She holds a Masters in International Agricultural Development from Texas A&M University, and has a genuine passion in agriculture or as she puts it, “farming was all she knew”. As a daughter of Mexican immigrants, she is able to articulate the needs of women in the farming community in a compassionate manner. She is an emerging leader within the field of Agricultural Development in Latin America, and anticipates using her education and experiences in agriculture to empower women and their communities around the world.
I am not flawless, but I am confident that I can contribute to change. Our actions can ensure that future generations have the opportunity to achieve their goals. Let’s work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.