Making the World a Better Place Through Gender Equality
By Global Youth Correspondent Samantha, 19, Nigeria:
“Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and me, and the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and me.”
I have heard this song by Micheal Jackson many times since I was a child and it would almost always bring me to tears. Can the world be healed? With so many wars, insecurities, turmoil, segregation, and differentiation? Yes!
Here is a quick story:
I remember when I was little, I saw a little girl on the television doing something to help her community. I was excited and interested. I also wanted to do something helpful for my community. Years following this occurrence, I was at a girls’ camp which was held in a government secondary school. Painted on the school walls were the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I didn’t fully understand them, but I was drawn to them.
There was a spark. That spark seemed like it died off until I joined Global G.L.O.W. Then, that buried spark in me came alive.
The Sustainable Development Goals: The SDGs
In September 2015 the United Nations came up with the 2030 agenda, determining 17 goals to make human rights ready and free for all to pursue within the next 15 years – we currently only have seven years left.
The 17 Development Goals are integrated and indivisible. Together, they form one goal: ensuring no one is left behind. With seven years more to the deadline of the 17 SDG goals, there’s still much more work to be done!
“Girls should be given the chance to have equal opportunities and play an active part in bringing sustainable solutions to the issues affecting the world at large.”
There can be no sustainable development without gender equality (SDG #5). According to UNICEF, “Women and girls represent half the world’s population, but gender inequality persists everywhere and stagnates social progress.” Intentional steps have been taken and reasonable progress has been recorded, but the promise of every woman and girl fully enjoying equality academically, economically, health-wise, socially, and legally remains unfulfilled.
According to the UN, at the current rate, it will take an estimated 300 years to end child marriage, 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and 47 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments (United Nations, 2023)
In an era where women and girls are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, poverty, and inequality, girls should be given the chance to have equal opportunities and play an active part in bringing sustainable solutions to the issues affecting the world at large.
Gender equality is not a women’s issue, it is a human issue.
There are no human rights without women’s and girls’ rights, so women’s rights, priorities, and policies should be placed on critical global agendas.
“Quality education for girls is not a privilege or luxury for girls, it is their fundamental human right.”
So what can we do? Girls should be encouraged and supported so they can go to school, and get quality education without fear or stereotypes. Quality education for girls is not a privilege or luxury for girls, it is their fundamental human right.
Constitutions should be reformed to promote women’s involvement in political and legal affairs. Perpetrators of gender-based violence, abuse, rape, and molestation of girls should be duly and fully penalized. They should not be ignored. Programs should be created to empower women and girls underground, especially rural women and girls who are handicapped in so many resources and life privileges.
“I can reach my dreams. Being a girl will not stop me.”
I am a young girl from northern Nigeria in West Africa. And sometimes, everything around me screams “You can’t! You don’t have what it takes!” I am a girl, a northern Nigerian girl, an African girl. And I can reach my dreams. Being a girl will not stop me.
The world will become a better place if girls are given the chance to be who they aspire to be with no segregation and when they are not left behind. To turn promises into actions, we need to step it up. We need public action, increased awareness, heightened advocacy, and improved systems that see women’s involvement as much as that of men. There should be more investments in programs and policies that involve women.
It is up to all of us to ensure this journey is successful. We can do this! Together, gender equality is attainable.
Global G.L.O.W. partners with community-based organizations in 30 countries to operate mentorship-driven programs for girls ages 10-18. Our SEL-based curriculum gives girls the tools to express themselves, advocate for their rights, and challenge the most critical barriers to achieving gender equality. Support our work at globalgirlsglow.org/donate.