GENDER equality is an issue that continues to generate reactions every time it comes up for discussion. And to make this a reality, the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 5 was created with the focus of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. It seeks to change the course of the 21st century by addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality and violence against women.
It is based on the belief that empowering women and girls will lead to gender equality. The SDG 5 aims at ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, eliminating every form of violence against women, eliminating all harmful practices, ensuring women’s full participation for leadership at all levels of decision making, ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as adopting and strengthening sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all, among others.
The importance the world today puts on gender equality is the reason the need for women to have equal rights and opportunity as well as being able to live free of violence and discrimination was made part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, women empowerment and gender equality has been identified as an integral factor of inclusive and sustainable development.
This indicates that the success of the SDGs depends on the achievement of Goal 5. But in spite of the importance of this goal, the society is still far from making landmark strides, and if there is no renewed commitment to eliminating factors impeding gender equality and working towards achieving it, the expected gender equality by 2030 will remain a mirage.
For SDG 5 to be effective, there is a need to review the laws and expunge discriminatory aspects and revise provisions of the law to advance equality proactively. Many countries still lack laws protecting women from domestic violence, while many still do not allow equal inheritance or academic rights for daughters and sons.
There is a need for equal distribution of economic resources and fair balance of responsibility for unpaid care work between men and women. Also, attention needs to be given to sexual and reproductive rights as many women across the world, especially in Nigeria, once they are married or even in a relationship are not given the chance to freely take decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care, though they are the ones that have to live with the effects of such decisions. This is pervasive, and encourages violation of rights and abuses while it is also detrimental to the quest for gender equality.
In Nigeria, like other countries of the world, there is a need to eliminate gender-based violence as it is one of the major factors impeding to gender equality. It is also on the rise because though there are laws against this act, the cultural belief has made it ineffective and the law is often discountenanced. In fact, many law enforcement agents still believe that abuse is a family matter and should not be reported.
Another major obstacle is inclusion of women in decision making and giving them equal chances to contest for elective offices. Though more women have ventured into politics and have become involved in taking decisions through the use of special quotas, the number of women in such positions still falls far below the expected figure for gender parity to be seen as being achieved.
For gender equality by 2030 to be feasible, the SDG 5 should be followed like a blueprint.