Writing a blog about the SDGs concerning gender equality sounded easy enough, especially as it is a topic that I am incredibly passionate about. However, when I attempted to begin this blog, I realised that the topic was vast and encompassed so many instances of inequality that analysing the entirety of gender equality, and how to empower all women and girls, was not going to be possible.
So, I’m taking a different approach. I have chosen three of the other SDGs and, using the gender equality goal as a central point, I will demonstrate some of the ways in which the goals intersect and interact with each other. Although each one can stand on its own as an aim, many of the goals will overlap. This interaction should, hopefully, ensure that the goals cover all bases and really achieve what they set out to do.
Millions of children around the world do not go to school, and even a large amount of children who do, don’t receive a good quality of education. The SDGs promote that good quality education must be provided for all children. This is directly related to gender equality as girls are less likely than boys to receive an education, which has knock effects throughout the rest of their lives. Not only is equal education important in and of itself, but women who have been educated are less likely to die in childbirth, less likely to start having children at a younger age and more likely to break the cycle of poverty and be able to find work. Education is a key factor in ending many elements of gender inequality, as well as empowering women and girls to achieve their potential throughout their lives.
Sanitation may seem like a strange part of the SDGs to highlight as important in terms of gender equality. However, I’ve chosen it as this issue has recently been raised here in the UK. A project called The Homeless Period has brought attention to the lack of sanitary items provided for homeless women. The promotion video can be found here. I’m sure many women reading this will know that feeling of slight panic when you realise you’ve started your period but forgotten to bring tampons or pads out with you – but I can hardly imagine how it would feel to know that there was no hygienic option available. The issue of female sanitation also affects women and girls across the world. UNICEF estimates that 1 in 10 school age African girls miss classes or drop out of school due to a lack of sanitary facilities. The problem is that when infrastructure is put into place, whether here or on other continents, the default is often assumed to be male. Many toilet facilities in African schools do not cater to for girls on their period, and here in the UK it is easier for a homeless man to find a razor than for a woman to find sanitary items. To achieve available and sustained sanitation, those who have periods must not be pushed aside and forgotten.
The eleventh sustainable development goal aims to make cities and human settlements safe places for people to live. I want to take this one step further and say that you cannot have safe cities, without having safe homes. In the UK two women a week are murdered as a result of domestic violence – I hesitate to say our cities are anywhere near safe when even a woman’s home can be a dangerous place. This bank holiday Monday 4th May, all-women direct action feminist group Sisters Uncut are protesting in London against the continued and life-threatening cuts to domestic violence services. The event can be found here. Across the world violence against women and girls continues to be a prevailing issue and, with the help of solid Sustainable Development Goals, we must work to create safer environments for girls to grow and become empowered women.
By Stephanie Scott – action/2015 youth panelist
For more information on the action/2015 campaign and youth click here. The action/2015 Youth Panel is co-facilitated by British Youth Council, BOND, Islamic Relief, Progressio and Restless Development and Y Care International.