Gender Equality is Real

Gender equality has been at the center of the United Nations' priorities for years now, with the world body working with global communities on achieving this goal by 2030 in a world where half of its population are women and girls. 

Gender equality is a fundamental human right. It is a precondition for achieving sustainable development and a peaceful society, and it is only achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society. 

Despite the fact that women and girls represent half of the world's potential, gender inequality persists everywhere today and stagnates social progress. Women are still subject to discrimination, violence and harmful practices. They remain underrepresented in leadership and management level positions in the public and private sectors. 

Achieving gender equality is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. 

The UN has put out in 2015 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. 

It was endorsed by all UN Member States in September 2015 in order to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. 

The 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the fifth goal of which (SDG 5) is "Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment". 

Goal 5 seeks to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere; Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres; Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation; Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate; Ensure women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life; Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health; Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws; 

Therefore, achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms. 

According to a report by the UN Secretary-General on the progress towards SDGs, globally, women's participation in single or lower houses of national parliaments reached 23.4 per cent in 2017, just 10 percentage points higher than in 2000. Such slow progress suggests that stronger political commitment and more ambitious measures and quotas are needed to boost women's political participation and empowerment. 

Women are still underrepresented in managerial positions. In the majority of the 67 countries with data from 2009 to 2015, fewer than a third of senior- and middle-management positions were held by women. 

Child marriage is declining, but not fast enough. Around 2000, nearly 1 in 3 women between 20 and 24 years of age reported that they were married before 18 years of age. Around 2015, the ratio was just over 1 in 4. The decline is driven by an even steeper reduction in the marriage rate among girls under 15 years of age during that period. 

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. 

If you are a girl, you can stay in school, help empower your female classmates to do the same and fight for your rights. If you are a woman, you can address unconscious biases and implicit associations that can 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. 

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Cynthia Darrous Khoury, UNIC Beirut Public Information Officer (Featured in Jordan Times)