Gender Equality Women Empowerment & Attainment of SDGs

Gender equality is a human right; what does it means by women empowerment. It is actually, the fostering of a woman’s sense of self worth, her decision making power, her access to opportunities and resources, her power and control over her own life inside and outside the home, and her ability to affect change. One should not get offended with the empowerment prospective of a woman. This empowerment is not just confined to some particular areas. It is actually a compulsory formula in every aspect of life. Gender equality is the actual foundation which provides base to women empowerment. Gender equality is a fundamental and inviolable human right and women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expand economic growth, promote social development and enhance business performance.

Women and girls, everywhere, must have equal rights and opportunity, and be able to live free of violence and discrimination. Women’s equality and empowerment is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development. In short, all the SDGs depend on the achievement of Goal 5. Gender equality by 2030 requires urgent action to eliminate the many root causes of discrimination that still curtail women’s rights in private and public spheres. There is another very much pertinent question. Does gender equality contribute to economic growth? Yes it is. And does economic growth contribute to gender equality? This is another very important thing to understand.

Achieving gender equality including women’s rights, women’s health and women’s empowerment is not only a means to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development; it is an important end in itself. It is quite evident that greater gender equality in education and employment has made a positive contribution to economic growth. Where economic growth is accompanied by greater gender equality in employment and education, the implications for women’s wellbeing and rights, as well as social attitudes to gender equality, are likely to be positive. In other words, women’s economic empowerment can be a pivotal factor in transforming the opportunities generated by economic growth into broader gender equality.

The surge in ratio of female entrepreneurs around the world is very much evident, which is indeed good news for families, communities and economic development. However, in most countries, the number of women entrepreneurs still lags behind men. Governments as well as businesses should consider polices to support women entrepreneurs in ways that are appropriate for a country’s economic stage of development and the country-specific cultural and practical challenges that women face.

Despite the importance of female entrepreneurs, women who have desire to start businesses face additional challenges compared to their male peers. Some of these challenges are practical, such as their childcare needs. Many hurdles, however, stem from overt and subtle forms of discrimination against women. Multiple studies have demonstrated the importance of models and mentors in helping new entrepreneurs succeed, and women in most economies have fewer female models and mentors to help them navigate the unique challenges women face.

Female entrepreneurs also find it far more difficult to attract capital than men. There have been huge changes for women in terms of employment in the past decades, with women moving into paid employment outside the home in ways that their grandmothers and even their mothers could only dream of, but still the situation needs an improvement. The bank’s women, business and the law 2019 report, published recently, measured gender discrimination in 187 countries. It found that, a decade ago, no country gave women and men equal legal rights.

The index assessed eight indicators that influence economic decisions women make during their working lives from freedom of movement to getting a pension, tracking legal blocks to either employment or entrepreneurship. Each country was scored and ranked, with a score of 100 indicating the most equal. Only six were given full marks. Research found that, globally, average scores had risen from 70 to 75. Of the 39 countries with scores of 90 or above, 26 were high-income. Eight (including the UK) came from the bank’s Europe and central Asia category, with parental leave a key European trend. Two, Paraguay and Peru were from the Latin America and Caribbean grouping.

Taiwan was also among the 39 top scorers. South Asia had the biggest improvement in average regional score, recording a figure of 58.36 up from 50 a decade ago. Sub-Saharan Africa increased from 64.04 to 69.63 over the same period, led by progress in Mauritius. Half the changes were related to work and marriage. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa made the least progress, with an average increase of just 2.86, to 47.37 Increase of just 2.86, to 47.37. When it comes to equality, men and women really do see things differently. Women and girls are not commodities and must be treated as human beings with equal rights to men.

Can we fight with our destiny? This question may surely have many answers depicting different thoughts and point of views but to fight with the odds is within our reach. Aristotle once said hope is a waking dream. This may be very easy in versifying but really difficult to put on the right direction where one can find a way to tackle the adversities. Unfortunately, in many nations, gender-based discrimination and inequality are still deeply woven into the social fabric. And despite the fact that women play such a critical role in the conservation of ecosystems, their contributions are often overlooked, undervalued, and sadly, undermined.

Improving girls’ access to education has been on the mainstream development agenda for some time, largely because of the poverty reduction potential that education offers through increasing access to economic opportunity. Education is often seen as one of the main pathways to achieving another key development goal: girls’ and women’s empowerment. Empowering adolescent girls with education is seen, rightly, as a prerequisite to development and growth. An educated woman is better able to educate her own children who, in turn, will be more likely to receive school education themselves.

The family will likely be healthier, with a lower prospect of infant mortality and better maternal nutrition. An educated woman’s household is more likely to prosper as a result of a higher overall income. It is an attractive proposition: invest in women and girls, and the benefits flow not only to them but everyone around them, too. Empowering girls completely cannot be done overnight, but a good place to start is with granting accessible education to the youth, especially in underdeveloped areas. Over the past few years, there has been an increasing emphasis on girls and information and communication technology in the development sector.

Large government donors, NGOs and the private sector believe girls could play a big role in resolving poverty and making development gains through ICT which is indeed veracity as well. In many countries, however, girls still lag behind boys in terms of access to and use of ICTs. Barriers such as gender discrimination, lack of confidence, language difficulties, low literacy and lack of time and money continue to prevent girls and young women from taking full advantage of technology. The corporate sector can help girls overcome these barriers in four important ways.

It can provide direct support to girls through ICT programmes, recruit and hire young women for technology-based jobs, set an example through its own actions, and use its influence to encourage others to do their part. The technology sector is one of the fastest growing industries globally, but experiencing skills gap. The European Commission, for example, has predicted a skills gap of over 800.000 ICT jobs in Europe by 2020. The sector holds enormous opportunities for women with the requisite skills. But stereotypes and discrimination continue to deprive girls of the chance to excel in this field. Globally, there is a 12 per cent gender gap in internet use; in the world’s least developed countries, the gap widens to 31 percent.

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About Erum Akbar 17 Articles
The author is Executive Editor of Mélange int’l Magazine and Secretary Information at Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR).