Women's World Majlis | Gender Equality, the Mother of All Sustainable Development Goals

Women's World Majlis

SDG 5 as the Foundation to Sustainable Development

We still have a long way to go before we achieve gender equality, about 36 years longer today than we did two years ago. The pandemic highlighted and exacerbated inequalities, as sectors dominated by women were hardest hit and much of society fell back to old gender norms with women as unpaid caregivers and men as providers. And the pandemic is just one example of women being disproportionately impacted. If we want to push forward the essence of the Global Goals, emphasizing their sustainability, we need to start with addressing gender equality. Gender equality (or the lack thereof) feeds into issues of poverty, climate change, and education. Women are more likely than men to live in poverty, to experience adverse effects of climate change, and less likely to receive an education than boys. In sum, women tend to bear the brunt of many of our global issues. A common factor to all these issues are the stereotypes and invisible gender norms held by society that prevent women from full participation in society and achieving their full potential. In 2020, a study by Pew Research found that a median of 40% of those surveyed agreed with the notion that men should have more rights to a job than women when jobs are scarce, while 56% disagreed. This number has remained almost unchanged in countries where previous data is available. Reworking perspectives like this one and eliminating the narratives that hold young girls and women back are amongst the most powerful tools we have to bring about a highly necessary paradigm shift on gender roles in society. Gender equality cuts across all SDGs. So, whether the goal is to generate sustainable economic growth and end poverty, stop climate change, or improve access to education, we need to ensure women and girls are an equal part of the solution.