UN member states are currently working toward a new development agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals in the post -2015 period. The new framework, to be called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will encompass a range of issues to promote well rounded progress in all areas of development, including education, gender equality, health, governance, the economy, the environment, food and energy.
Women’s issues and progress in gender equality will be key to the success of SDGs as outlined in The Guardian newspaper. The article states that while the MDGs made huge progress in many areas, the issue of gender equality requires more focus in the next round of development objectives.
In a recent report presented at the Commission on the Status of Women conference, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) of the UK and the OECD outlined six target areas to rectifying gender imbalances. They are:
- Women and girls exercise choice over their sexual and reproductive integrity
- Women and girls enjoy freedom from violence
- Women and girls enjoy enhanced decision-making ability over land and assets
- Women attain enhanced participation in political and civic life
- Equal value is given to girls and boys
- Unpaid care is equally distributed between women and men, girls and boys
The ODI and the OECD emphasize that a change in “social norms”, defined as the informal and formal laws, beliefs and practices, is critical to improving women’s lives. Changes in data collection and the availability of surveys, which did not exist prior to the creation of the MDGs, now make it easier for UN member states to evaluate social norms and to create quantifiable targets and objectives for the post-2015 period.
Measuring social norms through surveys which measure local attitudes, could help determine, for example, whether a girl is seen as burden with unequal access to healthcare, nutrition and education.
In regards to education, newly developed indicators could assess whether there are gender stereotypes in the school curriculum. They would look at the risk of violence girls face going to and from school, the prevalence of household tasks that girls are required to do instead of homework, and the marriage age – all of which affect the ability of a girl to stay in school.
The 60 million girls Foundation is currently partnering with CARE Canada to support a project in the Khost region of Afghanistan which emphasizes community involvement to facilitate girls safe access to education. For more details about our project, please click here.