A Report on Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality
By Kylie Richardson
The world has seen gender-based violence throughout history. The beating, rape, and emotional abuse of women occurs approximately every nine seconds in the United States. Unfortunately, our world will never see a place free from gender inequality, especially prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and economic depression that has struck nearly every country. The issue women around the world have been facing for centuries is being put on the back burner when it really needs more attention considering the alarming statistics released by the United Nations.
According to the United Nations, “globally, 26 percent of ever-partnered women aged 15 and older (641 million) have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.” Nothing can explain why sexual violence occurs besides the blatant disregard for humans’ rights. Though, there are many differing factors that contribute to the epidemic of sexual violence seen. Again, the lack of legislation protecting women in many countries provides loopholes and ease for women to be assaulted. Other reasons include social norms that condone violence including authority, “traditional constructs of masculinity”, and cultural and religious beliefs that tolerate gender-based violence.
“In a 2021 survey in 13 countries, 45 percent of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced some form of violence since COVID-19.” Since the lockdown that began in 2020 due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, gender-based violence showed a dramatic increase against populations of women around the world. Due to mobility restrictions and guidelines, many women found themselves to be trapped with their abusers, and since the health crisis struck everywhere, support and social contact was limited. Not only were women physically unable to leave their abusers because of spacial limitations, the economy faced seriously negative impacts which left many people in socioeconomic troubles, without jobs, and needing stability for themselves, including women with children. With that being said, it is likely many women felt they were unable to leave their daily lives trapped with abuse because they felt they had no other choice, leading to an increased rate of violence against women.
Gender-based violence is a significant threat to all women. However, child brides, in particular, are more vulnerable to these types of violence. The UN reports that “up to 10 million more girls are likely to become child brides by 2030 due to the effects of the features of such a system, and 15 percent do not have the minimum elements of such a system.” The main issues revolving child brides are poverty and pedophilia. In regards to poverty, in many developing countries girls are not provided with the same educational opportunities as men are provided with. This leads to low social, political, and economic opportunities for women and leave women in lower status. Thus, many young girls and women are required to be dependent on men as they see it as their only option, or their parents see child marriage as a solution to their economic issues. In addition, child marriage of young girls is seen frequently due to male fetishization of young girls and their innocence. This desire for younger girls is a form of pedophilia regardless of intentions, desires, or rationale. It is essential young girls and women are protected from such systems that tolerate child marriage, leaving young girls vulnerable and at risk of sexual assault and violence.
These statistics show the severity of the challenges women face globally, whether it be education, poverty, and/or violence, and you can find plenty more at the United Nation’s Goal 5 Page. It’s essential that we, as an international community, do something about this. In 2015, the United Nations established Sustainable Development Goal 5 which is a plan to address the rising concern regarding gender equality by aiming to end every form of violence and discrimination against women and girls while encouraging productivity among women and equal opportunities for leadership and decision-making. Every day, more and more women and girls endure sex trafficking, forced marriages, molestation, and more. According to UN Women, the goal previously hoped to undermine gender equality by 2030, but later explained that the current state of rise in violence and lowering of action against the violence has proven this impossible: “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2022’ presents the latest evidence on gender equality across all 17 Goals, calling out the long road ahead to achieve gender equality. It emphasizes the interlinkages among the goals, the pivotal force gender equality plays in driving progress across the SDGs, and women and girls’ central role in leading the way forward.” With SDG 5, countries have adopted the development policy into their regional systems and legislation, but little change has been implemented. Unfortunately, even when policies or laws are approved into a country’s system, there is no guarantee of direct response or resolutions.
Some obstacles faced prior to the SDG 5 and its attempts include the lack of influence. Women’s deprivation of income remain high, continued discriminatory culture, less education and employment opportunities in third-world countries, and approximately 30% of women worldwide experience sexual assault. Though 30% may seem insignificant, there are over 7 billion people on Earth, meaning 736 million of those are women who have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
With that being said, SDG 5 has demonstrated a growth in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Every effort is essential, and in those Latin American and Caribbean countries, their governments have accepted quota and parity laws, or equality laws, in the last two decades in an effort to reduce gender inequalities in politics and stimulate decision-making autonomy for women.
Though the SDG 5 had originally hoped to achieve global equality by 2030, it’s essentially unattainable. Women and girls continue to face harsh conditions every day in various nations around the world, including gender-based violence, workplace discrimination, fewer opportunities in the educational and economic spheres, and statistics provided by the UN show little improvement in the issues affecting women. No matter how many laws are passed and put into effect, equality cannot be attained if nations are unwilling to make significant, immediate changes. Actions speak louder than words.
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