Change is the law of nature and due to its dynamic nature, we see developments as per the time and needs of people but, in today’s modern world these developments are taking place with little or even no breaks. Enough of everything for everyone to utilize but nothing left for the future generations is nothing to be proud of, therefore Sustainable development comes into the picture. Sustainable development was coined in the Brundtland report in 1987 defined as practices that need to be practised by countries to tackle challenges posed by climate change and following guidelines to meet the present needs of people and to grow in a way that saves natural resources for future generations.
United Nations enacted 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) under the Paris agreement, 2015, and the goals effectively signify the importance of gender equality and the role of empowerment to achieve the agenda of 2030. For instance, Goal 5 n states the need of empowering women and girls and gender equality to achieve global sustainability. But as it seems Sustainable Development and Gender equality are goals that are needed to be achieved specifically but the linkage between the two could not be ignored. Therefore, how can women’s empowerment help in achieving these goals, and Why women’s empowerment is necessary for sustainable development will be explored in this article?
LINKAGE BETWEEN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Sustainable development rests on four pillars that are social development, economic development, environmental protection, and preservation of cultural diversity. We tend to associate women empowerment or gender equality with just as social development and Accountability for both women and natural resources contribution towards world development keep on missing, Therefore, the very first commonality which I find between women’s unaccounted unpaid work and Natural resources is that they are portrayed as a giver, not asking for returns or as a source of infinite services which are often not accounted for.
Recognition of the feminine touch to the work, economy, environment is not desired but needed and the inequality not only affects the development of the nation but also affects the balance of nature. Similarly, Sustainable development is not desired but needed and the goals like Goal 5 to achieve gender equality, Goal 1 that states the end of poverty by 2030, Similarly Goal 3 on ensuring health infrastructure and Goal 8 and Goal 10 about productive employment and reducing inequalities are needed for better future.[i]
As quoted by Former UN secretary Kofi Annan “Gender equality is more than a goal itself; it is a precondition of meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance”.
WOMEN AND ECONOMY
When women work, economies grow.
Greater gender equality refers to equal opportunities to all sections of the society, it is associated with a country means a country with better health and education, inclusive economic growth, and greater international competitiveness. Women’s participation in the economy has a major impact on healthcare, education, and the environment, the participation of women makes the cycle of development go smoothly. If even for one-day women stop doing the domestic work for free and stop taking care of their families, economies will be affected so let us not make domestic work an automatic choice for women, and a more accountable and respectable system is required for women’s who are home-makers. Therefore, not only women’s empowerment in developing countries is a good measure but a smart thing to do. For instance, India could boost its growth by 1.5 percentage points to 9 percent per year if around 50% of women could join the workforce.
The issue of lesser participation of women in the economy should be handled responsibly and effective measures to aware women of their rights should be done for better sustainable development.
WOMEN AND DECISION MAKING
Women were kept aloof from the powers of decision-making since ancient times and their unequal access and representation in health, education, and in the decision-making process has had lowered their position in society. No section of the society must be left due to lack of awareness and access therefore, the idea of more women in decision making should be promoted as they are potential users of the facilities and a major part in the implementation of the policies.
WHY MORE WOMEN IN DECISION MAKING?
The answer to this question is that More women in decision making bring a different perspective to the table which might have been unexplored previously and most importantly, when little girls and women who are still being infused by the patriarchal society look at the women with leadership roles, they should get in them that it is achievable because Afterall, the whole game is about mindsets.
WOMEN AND ENVIRONMENT
Women all around the world are the user and managers of natural resources like water, fuel, food, and forests and this is due to their major participation in domestic work and informal sectors of the economy, and in today’s world, Domestic work is sometimes seen as a weakness but the analogy is quite misguided as Due to the association of a large number of women’s with this work comes with the great power over nature
As that women are in the best position to make a contribution to family planning that can help control the population. Secondly, Women association with their households can ensure cleanliness and as we know dirtiness and an unhygienic environment lead to bad health and wealth. The point is With Adequate environmental education and awareness women can conserve energy resources far more efficiently as compared to men.
Women being so close to nature and its resources can realize environmental issues better as they are the roots of the nation and couldn’t be ignored. If Empowerment is the key to development, then why are we still debating on women’s role and importance for the development of the economy, environment, and overall development so Let us take a quick dive into the reasons for fewer women participation.
REASONS FOR FEWER WOMEN PARTICIPATION
- Women are paid less than men, it is not an unknown fact and one of the major reasons for less participation by women. The wage gap certainly establishes the fact of women being less eligible for work than their male counterparts and a notion is spread in the minds of women to compromise and settle more than men in the workforce. According to the 2017 gender gap report, the wage gap remained at 23 percent and seemed unchanged in 2019 and 2021. And it should be noted that these figures can’t be relied on completely as the gender wage gap exists in developing countries where women tend to be employed in the informal sector and self-employment and the number for those are not considered in the report.
- Women have less social and family support which pulls them back mentally, gender inequalities in employment result in unwanted disadvantages in various spheres of employment like availability of pensions, security of work, and unemployment benefits or maternity compensation and protection. These are the struggles faced by an average woman seeking a way out to earn but it gets much more difficult for girls and women from low-income families to get out of the norm when the only goal of their families is to marry them. A hollow narrowness of the society and pre-defined roles of women leads to lesser participation of women in the development of the nations.
- Violence and harassment in the world of work affect women regardless of age, location, income, or social status which makes them hesitant to work. A narrative of Women being naïve to understand the atrocities of the world is well established and the cases of violence and harassment at work add fuel to the fire and create more confusion and anxiety among women to work. This lack of sense of security holds a lot of women from moving to different places for better opportunities at work.
- The digital divide is one of the specific reasons for the fewer participation of women as a lot of women from rural areas are still offline and the majority of them being women leads to less awareness of the reforms taking place and thus in a way haphazardly causes implementation.
- Environment degradation has a huge impact, especially on women and children. The perceived notion of lack of authority among Women’s especially women farmers and women working in the informal sector are seen as less of the owner of their property, it affects the rights of women in business and their rights.[ii]
Women empowerment for sustainable development is not only important but necessary Though, Sustainability is subjective to one’s perspective but women’s role in it could not be ignored, be it economically, politically, or socially and to ensure the development of the world we must encourage more and more female participation and recognize the loopholes and ensure the implementation of policies effectively as “Leaving no one behind without harming resources for future generation is the goal, and we all are learning and evolving but ignorance is no bliss, therefore, we as individuals should do actively participate through our government and authorities because Recognizing, Realizing and Implementing will lead us to better future.
Author’s Name: Yashi Bajpai (Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi)
[i] [UNwomen.org], [ https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and-figures], [May 15, 1:00 AM]
[ii] [WorldBank.org] [https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/speech/2018/03/17/women-indias-economic-growth#:~:text=At%2017%25%20of%20GDP%2C%20the,could%20join%20the%20work%20force], [May 14, 11:00 PM]