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Gender inequality a major barrier to achieving sustainable Development

26.09.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
The global world in recent times has been striving hard to defeat the myth that men must be superior over women in all aspects. Ever since nations started talking about developmental agendas (agenda 2030) and sustainable development, world leaders have been advocating for gender equality to be able to meet up with their goals of development. Many people including the United Nations have opined that Africa and the world at large cannot fully attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs) without integrating women and the girl child. African First Ladies have also joined the pace addressing gender inequality in Africa. The Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly held a High-Level Meeting themed "Renewing Commitment towards Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Africa". The objective is to see how the African girl and woman can be empowered, though some cultural, social and structural barriers remain a call for concern.

What is Gender Inequality?

When we hear of gender, we think about sex either male or female and the terminology inequality simply shows the disparity between male and female or men and women.  As such, gender inequality simply refers to those differences existing between men and women. These disparities however vary from nation to nation. In some countries, especially Muslim dominated nations like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates among others, relegation of women remains too pronounced and a call for concern. Aspects like culture, traditions and even religion have sidelined women in most communities across the globe, overlooking their potentials in contributing to nation building. The most disturbing fact about the disparity gap between men and women is the point that most of these factors do not have firm logical backing or theories, but mere arguments and observations that undermine the strength, especially the economic strength of women in impacting change in society. However, the United Nations Women and other advocates of equal rights for Men and Women have continued to stand out strong, with the hope of defeating the barbaric and socially constructed barriers between men and women in the global world.

 Sustainable development

For a while now, the terminology ‘Sustainable Development’’ has remained one of the most frequently used words in the contemporary world. Thus, literally, Sustainable Development refers to the utilization of natural resources to push economic development, while ensuring that these resources are not exploited to extinction. This is to ensure that the future generation does not lack natural resources to further stem up economic development and growth. With this, present human development goals are met without undermining the needs of those to come. This boils down to why the United Nations on September 25, 2015 brought to light the project dubbed ‘’the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’’ As per the French Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, ‘’the adoption of the sustainable development goals, these 17 priority levers for a sustainable development, fix our compass and the horizon we have to reach.”

Objective

The objective of this remarkable Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development is to eradicate poverty, curtail inequalities and combat climate change in order to ensure real human and economic development by the year 2030 with no one relegated. These underlined sustainable development goals include; No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, access to clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industries, innovation infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption, production, climate action, life beneath water, life on land, peace justice and strong institutions and partnership for the goals. If all of these factors are met, the discrimination of women and girls would be a matter of the past.

Factors impeding gender equality

There is no denying the fact that nations worldwide have been striving to bridge the gap existing between men and women since the adoption of the 2030 agenda on sustainable development. However, putting men and women on the same platform is still very problematic in present-day society.  Some factors are still impediments to gender equality.

  • Access to primary education: A significant number of girls remain out of school worldwide in spite of their quest to get educated in other to uplift their potentials, help their families and contribute their own quota to nation building. Ensuring that girl children have access to basic education is already a way forward to fighting illiteracy among girls and grooming them for better emancipation. According the United Nations Development Programme UNDP, since the year 2000, a significant number of girls have enrolled in school compared to 15 years ago. The agency added that most regions have attained gender equivalence in primary or basic education. Remember, educating one girl child is educating a whole nation, that is to say their education brings huge benefits to the society be it in health, security and prosperity.

  •  Conflicts and Wars:  The continuous prevalence of war and conflicts in the global society has greatly exposed women. Global statistics have proven that children and women become more susceptible in times of conflicts and wars, thus, a looming humanitarian crisis. At this juncture, governments and aid agencies channel the resources meant to harness the potentials of girls and women to providing help to the vulnerable. Emergencies are more risky for girls and women than men, they are exposed to sexual violence, and sometimes engage themselves in all forms of ugly economic activities like sex work and trafficking just to survive. For example, the war in Syria, South Sudan, and elsewhere around the world has had adverse consequences on the girl child. The way governments react to this is a prove that the gender gap is still very wide and there is a need to close this.

There are however a whole number of factors still impeding gender equality like early marriages, Domestic Violence, inadequate access to financing, poor sexual health and sanitation for girls and women. Cognizance of the fact that gender equality is a vital tool for achieving sustainable development, it is however imperative for governments, NGOs and other stakeholders to step up efforts to bring girls and women into the development plans at an early stage. As asserted by Rwandan First Lady Jeanette Kagame, ‘’ excluding women from leadership has a great cost to development.’’

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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