This year on the occasion of 41st International Women’s Day we will celebrate and pledge to the theme- “Planet 50-50 By 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality”. It is a well proven fact that the issue of gender disparity and women empowerment continue to assume greater significance in view of coordinated action being taken up by the global developmental experts. From MDGs Goal 3 to SDGs Goal 5, a single standalone goal has always found a place in these global development agenda. This year’s International Women’s Day theme in a true sense envisages a world where all women and girls will have equal rights and opportunities by 2030, rightly aligning itself with the Global Agenda –2030 of sustainable development.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in September 2000, promised a new era of development for the world, with a target of achieving it by 2015. Among 8 goals, goal 3 was dedicated to achieve gender equality and empower women, which targeted to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. MDGs focused only on a limited set of empowerment areas. MDGs (set of eight goals) were celebrated as the world’s greatest commitment, but it showed irregular progress with stark differences across countries and regions. Although, MDGs have played a critical role in galvanising attention and resources for achieving gender equality and women empowerment, much remains to be done to achieve holistic gender parity across the world.
In India, gender disparity continues to be an enormous problem that is deeply engrained in the society at all levels. The existing patriarchal norms have lowered women to secondary status within the household and workplace. This has radical effects on women's health, financial status, education, and political involvement. While many progressive laws and schemes have been adopted to ensure political, social and economic empowerment to women and girls, the need for regressive steps and additional gauges was felt to solve this problem which is so deeply rooted in India’s cultural ethos and value orientation. It is then, the need for evolving indicators pivoting the transition from MDGs to a new, more inclusive and robust agenda was felt.
With the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we start a new chapter this year of “global partnership” for ensuring Sustainable Development. Achieving gender equality is seen as a critical enabler to achieving these 17 new goals. While the SDGs are a global agenda, they will be driven and implemented at a national level and this will necessitate the determined efforts and unleashing full potential of men and women, boys and girls to ensure success of these goals. Among 17 goals, goal 5 is dedicated to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. The key factor on which the goal 3 of MDGs and goal 5 of SDGs differ is inclusiveness. Goal 5 of SDGs commits to empower girls and women, thus, it is inclusive of all age groups. This is clearly indicative of the early interventions to ensure a more sustainable social, political and economic empowerment.
Women contribute to almost 50% population of India and ignoring 50% of the population and talent pool has significant impacts on the bottom line. It is a well-established fact that women’s empowerment has a multiplier effect creating significant impacts to families, communities, economies and nations. Thus, for a fast growing economy like India promoting gender equality is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.
This year’s theme- "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality" urges the governments to make national commitments- in form of laws, policies, national action plans and adequate investment, which will be focused on addressing the challenges of gender equality and closing the gender gap within next 15 years. The initiative comes at a critical moment in time as a new development agenda is taking shape. Now is the time for all the stakeholders to Step It Up and play their role in advancing gender equality in a manner that is more coordinated, sustainable and better governed.
IPE Global as a development consultancy has participated, initiated and witnessed many programmes to promote and support this cause. On this International Women’s Day we will celebrate the courage, determination and success of all the women who have played a role in advancing gender equality, reflect on progress made and call for change by #PLEDGINGFORPARITY.