At the end of 2022, UN Women released a report on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in relation to gender equality. The findings were that the current rate of progress would take 286 years to close the gaps and achieve full gender equality, especially in terms of legislation to protect and empower women, violence against women and access to equal employment status in fields including science and technology. Center for Girls (CFG) is committed to playing our part of supporting women’s empowerment and gender equity in the work we do in Chiang Khong and surrounding districts, and the findings of this report suggest that globally, there is a lot of work still to be done.
Sustainable Development Goals and Gender Equality
ONE: No poverty. 380 million women and girls are living on less than $1.90, and by 2030, if nothing changes, this number will increase. While there was an improvement, COVID-19 slowed progress on this SDG, as it rose 9% in 2020.
TWO: Zero hunger. In 2021, almost one-third of women worldwide experienced severe or moderate food insecurity, with food prices continuing to rise.
THREE: Good Health and well-being. A leading cause of death and disability for women is unsafe abortion, with over 1.2 billion women and girls living in countries with restrictions on accessing safe abortion, and 102 million live in places where it is illegal.
FOUR: Quality education. Wars, natural disasters, and discrimination keep girls out of school. 54% of girls not in formal education live in crisis-affected nations.
FIVE: Gender Equality. More than one in ten women and girls experienced intimate partner abuse in the previous year. On a positive note, in 2021, 4,475 communities made public declarations to end female genital mutilation. COVID-19 and regressive actions on women’s sexual and reproductive rights are affecting progress. One woman or girl is killed by a family member every 11 minutes, and one-quarter of women reported more household conflicts since the pandemic began.
SIX: Clean water and Sanitation. Yearly, over 800,000 women and girls die from a lack of access to clean water.
SEVEN: Affordable and clean energy. Millions of women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are unable to access affordable and clean energy, and energy prices are rising.
EIGHT: Decent work and economic growth. The proportion of employed women in 2022 is projected to be below pre-pandemic levels for 169 countries.
NINE: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure. Only two out of ten science, engineering, and technology jobs are held by women worldwide, and only 16% of patents are associated with women.
TEN: Reduced inequality. By the end of 2021, around 44 million women and girls were forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, climate change, and human rights violations.
ELEVEN: Sustainable cities and communities. The majority of women live in cities, and 49% reported feeling less safe walking alone at night after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Solutions to Speed Up Progress for Gender Equality
The priority areas that UN Women identified as catalysts for gender equality include ending violence against women, supporting employment and sexual and reproductive rights. Firstly, ending all forms of violence against women and girls is essential, in private and public spaces, including trafficking and sexual exploitation. CFG focuses on all of these areas, having formed a network in bars restaurants, and communities to alert any suspicion of trafficking, and working with business owners to ensure proper treatment of workers, as well as being a referring center to help them access help, mental health support and government support to get their lives back. We work with communities on reducing violence against women.
Secondly, UN Women recommends recognizing the value of unpaid household and care work done by women, which has increased during COVID, and encouraging the shared division of labor in households. Having policies and funding available to women who are in these positions will reduce this gap. CFG works with communities in projects where men and women work together, breaking the belief that there are women’s and men’s roles.
Thirdly, supporting women’s full and active participation in employment, leadership, and science and technology fields. CFG is partnering with UN Women to provide seed funds and micro-enterprise training for women, including stateless and ethnic group women, to allow them to increase their revenues and recover from pandemic hardships.
Other recommendations included ensuring women have access to sexual and reproductive rights, that they are legally allowed to own and inherit property and strengthen their access to resources. Governments and districts need to strengthen and adopt policies to promote gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment at all levels.
While these results show there is a long way to go in achieving full gender equity, we are seeing wonderful results in the communities and districts surrounding Chiang Khong and will continue working tirelessly to empower and support women.
– Aimee Vulinovich
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