July 10, 2024 10:19 pm

From Akosua Lundgren’s Diary: Why SDG 5 is paramount for developing economies

Background

Society continues to face challenges of inequality, disease, malnutrition, human rights abuses, corruption, worker abuse, discrimination, and lack of access to education, among many other problems. Women’s equal participation in economic development is still a challenge and most societies have not yet succeeded implementing strategic pathways towards the advancement of gender equality.

Gender inequality across politics, education, health, and economic participation remains the largest social challenge facing the community today. Globally, over 2.7 billion women continue to face labour market barriers. In 2018, 104 economies out of 189 economies still have laws preventing women from entering the working market according to the UN Women (2020). This gender gap is even much higher in some sub-Saharan African countries by a 20% difference compared to other regions according to the International Labour Organisation ( ILO 2018). According to the World Bank statistics (2022), less than 50% of women globally (aged 15-64) are engaged in the labour market as compared to 78% of men, a figure that has barely changed over the last quarter of a century. These gender differences affect both developing and developed economies.

Unfortunately, the average distance to achieve gender equality will take more than 100 years (WEF, 2021), in the case of charting Ghana’s progress on SDG 5, she needs to scale up its efforts to promote gender equality and the realization of the UN’s SDG 5. Sustainable funding, and commitment to full implementation, remain a challenge.

Fostering gender equality and empowering women with better jobs, education, and political representation is essential for achieving gender equal world, which, in the end, will enhance economic development and national productivity, lifting many societies out of poverty.

From a bedrock from a deep understanding of the numerous issues and challenges facing woman and girls in Ghana, despite the powerful opportunities, I Believe Global (IBG) Women’s Empowerment Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Center for Sustainable Development, Koforidua Technical University, and international stakeholders are scaling up efforts with an annual international conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (SDG5) which aims to achieve a shared commitment to action. ‘’I Believe Conference Gh’’, is a cutting-edge conference that brings together professionals from relevant backgrounds streaming under one umbrella to join with world influential leaders to facilitate progress on gender equality (SDG5) and tackle important issues affecting achievement of gender equality (SDG 5) in Ghana and across the Sub-Sahara Africa. The I Believe Conference is aimed at supporting the actualization of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), especially SDG 5 (Gender Equality), in Ghana.

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The ’’I Believe Global Women’s Empowerment Foundation’’ IBGWE is an NGO engaged in the promotion of SDGs in Ghana and Africa through ’’The I Believe Conference” programmes. Our vision at IBGWE is to contribute to the advancement of women across all sectors in Africa. We have offices in Sweden, Ghana, Togo, and are currently working with partners in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, and Volta regions.

Gender Equality and Sustainable Development

At the beginning of 2020, the adoption of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and a call for action by the UN for all leaders, institutions, and civil societies was to build a fairer and more inclusive economy for people from all income groups and nations and give everyone the ability to positively impact their families, organisations, and communities. To actualise the dream, instilling gender equality across education, health, politics, and all forms of economic participation is crucial for social, environmental, and economic sustainability.

Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is crucial to achieving a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Advancing gender equality (SDG5) and empowerment of women according to the UN is essential to build stronger economies, achieve development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families, and societies.

Gender Equality and Developing Economies

Developing half of the world’s population has a huge bearing on the growth, competitiveness, and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide. According to research conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, if women and men participate equally the world economy could gain 28 trillion dollars by 2025. Companies with at least one woman in senior management tend to see significantly higher annual performance. By closing gender gaps, companies benefit through increased productivity and higher retention. Investors are increasingly looking at the gender equality performance of companies as an indicator for potential growth. Beyond advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, companies and employers can impact all areas of society and be a leader in creating lasting positive change (McKinsey Global Institute 2015; International Monetary Fund (2018).

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Despite these opportunities presented by the UN, many societies, economies, and legal and professional barriers for women still exist preventing them from entering the workforce, progressing in their careers, and growing their businesses. Poverty is the greatest ecological challenge to global health. Improving income equality and the health status of women is essential for the achievement of sustainable development goals.

Conclusion

Understanding the circumstances surrounding gender disparity requires a broader approach. Many structural and cultural factors, ranging from discrimination, violence, gender stereotyping, and low participation in higher education remain the roadblocks towards the achievement of SDG 5 in Ghana and across the-Sahara. To address these obstacles, there must be a considerable scope in promoting women’s participation in politics, women’s enrolment in higher education, inclusive economy, equity in health, vocational training, entrepreneurship programmes, and better law enforcement against gender violence. By moving forward, workforce strategies must ensure that women are better equipped with needed skills, changing legislation and sociocultural attitudes towards women and girls by implementing positive social, economic, and environmental transformative change through a series of initiatives towards the achievement of SDG5. Also, improving the efficiency of public policies for family support by promoting a more even distribution of family responsibilities across members of the household.

By Rachel Akosua Lundgren| President, I believe Global|Ghanasonline.com

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