Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and therefore also half of its potential. But, today gender inequality is everywhere and stagnates social progress. There has been progress over the last decades: More girls are going to school, fewer girls are forced into early marriage, more women are serving in parliament and positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality.
Despite these gains, challenges remain: discriminatory laws and social norms are still prevalent, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership, and 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected some of the progress made in gender equality. There has been a steep increase in violence against women and girls since the outbreak of the pandemic. With the lockdown measures, many women were trapped at home with their abusers, struggling to access services that suffered from cuts and restrictions.
How does gender inequality affect women?
Disadvantages in education translate into lack of access to skills and limited job opportunities. Women’s and girls’ empowerment is essential to expand economic growth and promote social development.
What can we do to fix these issues?
If you are a girl, you can stay in school, help empower your female classmates to do the same and fight for your right to access sexual and reproductive health services.
If you are a woman, you can address unconscious biases and implicit associations that form an unintended and often an invisible barrier to equal opportunity.
If you are a man or a boy, you can work alongside women and girls to achieve gender equality and embrace healthy, respectful relationships.
You can fund education campaigns to curb cultural practices like female genital mutilation and change harmful laws that limit the rights of women and girls and prevent them from achieving their full potential.
Regardless of where you live, gender equality is a fundamental human right. Advancing gender equality is critical to all areas of a healthy society, from reducing poverty to promoting the health, education, protection and the well-being of girls and boys. Let’s all do our part to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality all around the world.