How can we achieve gender equality by 2030? Ideas from UNU-GCM

  • 2018•03•08


    Photo: Joaquin Rullas/Imagen en Acción. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND(cropped with permission)

    On International Women’s Day, the team at UNU-GCM is sharing our ideas for how to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5: gender equality.

    “Gender is a category of identity that can dignify every single person. Achieving gender equality by 2030 requires us all, regardless of sex and/or gender, to rethink ways we imagine and enact gender every day. It is as much about small actions as equality in law, remuneration and representation,” explains UNU-GCM Director Parvati Nair. “Gender is about more than men/women. To achieve gender equality we all have to challenge ourselves to think outside these restrictive boxes and recognize other gender identities that have to be included when fighting for equality,” adds Janina Pescinski.

    Including men in the fight for gender equality is a priority for Francisco Cos Montiel. “It is fundamental to start working with men and masculinities more seriously. Why work with men?  Because while we have made important inroads in terms of legislation and policies, we have been less successful in changing culture. Cultural processes of change can be very slow and we should think more seriously about men’s active involvement in the private sphere in terms of looking after children and doing an equal share of the domestic chores. We haven’t talked much about that in policy circles.”

    Valeria Bello agrees, adding that “Gender-equal sharing of all aspects of life is key to reducing inequalities. Non-cumulative parental leave avoids discrimination in both paid and unpaid work and allows rethinking of gender roles and their contribution to sustainable development”.

    In terms of paid work, for Àngels Fabregues it’s simple: equal pay for equal work. “Recognizing the contributions that women make to the world of work and compensating them equally is required for achieving gender equality by 2030,” she says. Focusing on workplace equality is essential, and GCM’s research project “Women of the World: Home and Work in Barcelona” has shown that work is a valuable way that women migrants achieve empowerment, inclusion and belonging.

    In order to make progress towards a gender equal world of work, Anna Eknor explains that “when previously feminised jobs gain higher status through technological upgrading they are often defeminised, mirroring discriminatory gender norms and market powers. To overcome this, we must provide women and girls with skills for the future of work and transform gender norms.” UNU-GCM’s new project on “Migration, Gender and the Future of Maquila work in the Northern border of Chihuahua, Mexico” will explore these themes.

    Part of transforming gender norms is rethinking leadership. “We need to enhance awareness and drive change towards gender-neutral leadership development efforts, promoting core leadership potential in terms of unbiased competencies,” says Anna Franzil. Indeed, there are many influential women leaders throughout the world, but their contributions go often unrecognised due to the fact that they experience bias in the leadership setting. Previous research by UNU-GCM has particularly shown how migrant women are leading locally.

    Despite the positive advances made by women, it is important to remember the structural challenges they face. “We have to acknowledge the systematic violence against women and actively push back against it. Adopt and implement protective legislation that ensures access to legal, social and medical services, and fosters a culture of safety and equality,” says Ottavia Ampuero. This is especially true for migrant women, who are disproportionately vulnerable to domestic violence, and refugees and asylum seekers often face violence in camps.

    Throughout our work, UNU-GCM includes gender as a fundamental consideration, and in the past we have done dedicated research on Female Agency, Mobility and Socio-Cultural Change. Our research emphasizes that women’s rights are human rights, and achieving gender equality is not just a women’s issue. Cecilia Ortega concludes that “Raising awareness is fundamental. My goal is that the fight for gender equality becomes all of society’s fight from this 8th of March until the 8th of March 2030.”