3 years ago, the UN Member States defined 17 goals for a sustainable development. One goal: gender equality. What is the position of women now and how will things have developed by 2030?
Double goal: Gender equality
The goals include among other the fight against poverty and hunger, access to high-quality education and health systems, climate protection measures and peace and gender equality. Gender issues are often hotly debated as everybody wants to have a say. The reason for this is not least the fact that gender equality affects many areas and that most areas influence the realities of life experienced by women and men. Be it the economic situation (unequal pay, career opportunities, access to family assets), be it (unpaid) childcare or care of the elderly, healthcare in case of pregnancy and abortion or climate overheating, which influence the life and fleeing situation of women worldwide. Due to this enormous range of influencing factors on the lives and rights of women, many feminist NGOs and UN women are pursuing a “double goal” in the Agenda 2030. This means that they support the idea to include gender equality as an independent goal in the Agenda 2030, whilst at the same time enshrining gender equality into the other 16 goals. However, in spite of an enormous amount of work and time spent, it has not been possible to fully achieve this double goal.
Data and facts
Anybody not included in the statistics is forgotten. What cannot be expressed in figures cannot be included in a statistic. This is shown among other in respect of the discussion on unpaid work, which is a subitem of the gender equality goal. The arguments of feminist organisations only gained clout when it was there in black and white: women do 2/3 of unpaid work and depending on country and calculation, unpaid work generates the same value added as the national GDP. Until now, Austria had carried out a related Time Use Study every 10 years to ensure that the situation was backed up by data. However, this time neither the Family Ministry nor the Ministry for Social Affairs have commissioned the Study. The retrograde step by the Austrian government weighs double, as it is urgently required to go a step further, as complex calculations are needed to link further categories with gender. For example, the probability of women being discriminated against differentiates because of religion or class affiliation. Hence, to achieve gender equality, more not less gender research is required.
Where is the way leading to?
Data in the Global Gender Gap Report 2017 of the World Economic Forum forecast: if the speed of reforms remains unchanged, gender equality would be achieved in 217 years. The report “Turning Promises into Action” by UN Women shows that in accordance with applicable law, husbands in 18 countries are able to prevent their wives from taking up paid work, that 49 countries do not have a law that protects women against domestic violence, that during the 12 months before the report was published, 19 % of women and girls experiences physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, that 750 million women under the age of 18 are married and that 200 million women in 30 countries were victims of genital mutilation. How slow progress is, is also apparent in the Asian region: in spite of enormous economic growth in Asia and the falling number of people living in extreme poverty, the evaluation of the progress of implementing SDGs by UN ESCAP has been surprisingly placed between critical and negative. Based on the increasing inequality within and between countries, as well as the expansion of the textile and electrical industry, many women work in health-hazardous sectors, whilst at the same time experiencing limited access to medical care. But things do no not exactly run smoothly in the EU. At the beginning of December 2018, various NGOs spoke in the European Parliament about the worrying setbacks regarding gender equality in some Member States and the EU itself, which proclaims the motto “Leaving no one behind”, does not even provide for a gender budget in its Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
What is required now is to bundle all national and supranational forces, to support gender equality and to implement concrete measures quickly! Or should we really stick to the current speed and wait for another 217 years?