Ending discrimination for women and girls everywhere may seem like a daunting task, but the United Nations has made a concerted effort to take it on. This Thursday marks United Nations Day, recognizing the advancements made by the signatories and their organizations. In the journey to achieve global peace, the UN tackles interrelated issues for the greater benefit of the world. With 17 global goals, ranging from eradicating poverty to overcoming climate change, the UN aims to achieve each objective by the year 2030. Though each of these unique targets is laudable, Goal 5 has a special place in our hearts. Dedicated to gender equality, Goal 5 aims to dismantle a plethora of barriers that are holding women and girls back. However, with only a decade left to reach global equality, the rate of progress is seriously distressing.
In a report released by UN Women, the organization notes significant progress on some issues affecting women and girls—but most numbers indicate there’s a serious amount of work to be done. In developing countries, the UN reports a remarkable decline in child marriages but struggles to make significant structural changes in most other areas. UN Women states that systemic problems are “undermining” the ability to achieve the overall goal of equality—including “legal discrimination, discriminatory social norms, and attitudes, [and] low levels of decision-making on the part of women and girls.” This dilemma is evident in the statistics.
The growth of women leaders has been slow. Thankfully in our own elections, we’ve seen more political involvement from women, with record-breaking numbers of women in Congress and on the presidential debate stage. However, women still only make up 23% of House seats and women candidates face a severe amount of gendered scrutiny. Globally, women still only hold 30 percent of seats in national parliament. Gains in the workplace have been underwhelming as well. Women make up a whopping 39% of the workforce but only hold 27% of managerial positions. Research proves that women face a “broken rung” in their professional advancement and are continually held to a higher standard than their male peers. Societal expectations that are inhibiting girls and women have proven time and time again to be difficult to shake. The devaluing of unpaid labor, most of which is done by women, continues to contribute to the economic glass ceiling.
With 2030 on the horizon, it’s going to take everyone’s involvement to make gender equality a reality. Luckily, the United Nations provides resources and an array of opportunities to do your part. Passionate about improving the global health landscape for women and girls? Check out Every Woman Every Child that focuses on tackling this head-on. Are you a man looking for a way to do your part in creating an equitable society? Visit the UN’s He for She campaign for ways to get involved. Stay informed and check out more of the UN’s initiatives to help take on Goal 5. We have a long way to go– but that just means it’s time to roll up our sleeves!
Take Action! Learn more about Goal 5 and the UN’s gender initiatives here and join the fight to achieve gender equality by 2030!