This is the fith blog in a series being written by our fantastic Youth Ambassadors in New York for this year’s United Nations General Assembly – where world leaders have agreed on a set of Global Goals. Sarah Boyle is our Youth Ambassador from Ireland and she’s writing about why it’s so important to achieve #GlobalGoal Number 5: Gender Equality
Do you live in a society where women and men are afforded the same opportunities? Are you entitled to the same wage packet for the same job? Do girls have the same access to education as boys?
You may answer many of these questions by saying ‘no’. Gender equality means creating a world where girls and women have equal access to education, the job market, respect, and the ability to live freely.
How can we respond to this?
By getting girls into quality school environments and helping them stay there.
It may sound simple, but sadly we are still far away from achieving this. Some 121 million children are not in school and most of them are girls. If a family can afford school fees for only one child, it will likely be a boy who attends. If someone needs to fetch water or do housework instead of going to school, its likely a girl will be chosen. If someone needs to stay home to care for younger siblings or sick or infirm household members, this will most likely be a girl.
Sadly, some girls will be withdrawn from school in early adolescence as the age of marriage approaches. On top of this women in the developing world are far more likely to die giving birth or suffer from chronic health problems due to lack of access to quality healthcare or from cooking and heating their homes with unsafe fuel sources.
Despite this, study after study shows that educating girls would be an incredibly effective way to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health. If all women in low and lower-middle income countries completed secondary education, the under-five mortality rate would fall by 49% – saving 2.8 million children’s lives annually. Educated women are also 50% more likely to immunise their children.
The evidence is clear: extreme poverty disproportionately affects girls and women, from their health to income to personal safety. ONE reveals how the poorest women are often barred from owning and inheriting land and other property, opening a bank account, or accessing education.
It is a moral necessity to rectify this situation. If we are to live up to the promise of the new Global Goals, if we are to strive for the end of extreme poverty by 2030, then we simply cannot fail when it comes to achieving gender equality.