Image: IDN-INPS | SDO. - Photo: 2023

In Focus: Gender Empowerment and the SDGs

By Kalinga Seneviratne

SYDNEY (IDN) — The latest available Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 data shows that the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. It will take perhaps another three centuries to close the global gender gap. Almost 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. While at the higher level of the social and economic ladder, 85 % of Fortune 500 CEOs are men.

Shining a spotlight on these issues, UN Women embarked on a campaign aimed at the global corporate and political elite at the annual Davos Economic Forum to engage them in a ‘Generation Equality’ discussion. Under this umbrella, an initiative to accelerate investment and implementation of gender equality is being explored.

UN Women is spearheading solutions-focused conversations with leaders from across governments, business and civil society organizations. If discussions that have taken place at the UN conferences on women are any yardstick, the 3-century prediction for gender equality may yet be the reality.

While we have tried to bring you a diversity of viewpoints—mainly from women—on gender empowerment and the SDGs in this issue, the crux of the issues is reflected in the graphics we have presented in the issue courtesy of UN Women. The statistics show:

* Globally, more than 380 million women and girls live in extreme poverty.

* Globally, nearly 1 in 3 women experienced moderate or severe food security issues in 2021.

* Unsafe abortion is a leading but preventable cause of maternal mortality and morbidity. Over 1.2 billion women and girls of reproductive age live in countries that restrict access to safe abortions.

* 54% of girls who are in formal education worldwide live in crisis-affected countries. 

As highlighted on the page, one world’s first democratically elected Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, told the 1st Conference on Women in Mexico City in 1975: “We are not here only to demolish discrimination but to envision the benefits to the human race of integrating this forgotten half of humanity in development”.

Twenty years later, the United States’ first lady Hillary Clinton told the 4th conference of Women in Beijing: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights for once and for all”. Thirty years later, these messages are still echoing globally, while some progress has been made yet, in many parts of the Global South, it is still a work in progress.

In the 16th issue of SDO, while focusing on the problem of gender empowerment, we also look at some of the initiatives that are being taken, as well as an interesting story about how women are succeeding in peace-making where men cannot—that is, in Syria. 

The SDO was launched in September 2021—produced with a lot of passion and commitment with no funding—aimed to bring the diversity of issues associated with the SDGs into focus, especially from a Global South context. This is designed mainly for young journalism and development communication practitioners and students to guide them to SDG issues that may not be covered by the mainstream corporate media, especially from the perspectives we offer in this publication. [IDN-InDepthNews — 01 February 2023]

The PDF copy of Sustainable Development Observer Issue 16 can be downloaded from

Image: IDN-INPS | SDO.

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