In 2015, all members belonging to the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda contains a list of seventeen core Sustainable Development Goals which are the primary and core focus for all members to achieve the proposed end result of this agenda. The fifth of the goals on this list is gender equality.
Pexels, Magda Ehlers
Gender equality is defined as the ‘state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviours, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.'
In the UN’s preamble about this proposed agenda for 2030, they state that this is a goal that ‘seeks to realise the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.’’
The main contributor to having a knock-on effect on the entire world over the last few years, concerning the economy, social restrictions and the environment, was the global Coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 impacted a lot of different people and a lot of different sectors. One of the many things it affected was domestic abuse rates. Police in the United Kingdom recorded crime data that showed an increase in offences flagged as domestic abuse-related during the pandemic, however, there was also a steady gradual increase in recorded DA-related offences over recent years.
A UK issue?
In a 2021 survey in 13 countries, 45 per cent of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced some form of violence since COVID-19. This isn’t an issue that can be attributed to one particular place or type of person, it’s happening everywhere, every day. Globally, 26 per cent 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.
We’re still seeing women being punished just because of their gender at birth.
For example, in June last year, The US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, a 50-year-old landmark piece of legislation that made access to an abortion a federal right in the United States. Abortion is now illegal in many states in the US, meaning that women must carry to full term to childbirth, regardless of the circumstance surrounding their pregnancy.
The overturning of this law in a first-world country in 2022 is a terrifying prospect, and its only target was biological women - and people able to give birth. How, in this day and age, are women still fighting for the right to control what happens to their own bodies? Do the UN genuinely believe that they can implement a structure to help women in just 7 years when we’re still seeing rights be overturned in front of our very eyes?
One of the main reasons that gender issues like this are so easily brushed off or overturned is because there is a lack of women in roles that are contributing to the fight against it. Women’s voices and opinions simply aren’t being heard, not at the same level as men’s. At the pace we’re currently going, it would take another forty years for women and men to be represented equally in national parliaments. Forty years.
Another sector that affects women is the workforce - specifically regarding overall national employability and wages.
Data shows that the current employment rate of women is higher than that of men, but is this only due to the differences in pay? The 2022 mean percentage of the Gender Pay Gap was 5.45% and the median was 9.71%. At an hourly rate, this means that women were paid between £1.44 less than men (mean) and £2.41 (median). These statistics did drop from 2021 to 2022, showing that the Gender Pay Gap in the UK is gradually reducing, but is still very much a work in progress.
To conclude, we’re still nowhere near where we need to be in order to achieve full gender equality globally, but gradually some kind of change is taking place. We’ve still got a long way to go and we all need to be as involved and as supportive as we can be to ensure that half of the world’s population gets the same opportunities and treatment as the other half.
We need more women in higher positions of power, we need to make positive change, and we need to make it now.