Sustainable Development Goals: Gender Equality

October 15, 2020

Welcome to the next installment of our series on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. This week, we’re covering Gender Equality.

Gender Equality is not only one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals - it’s also a defining motivator behind the work we do at TO THE MARKET. When a woman has independence and the same economic opportunities as her male counterparts, it creates a ripple effect across her community. Her family’s financial security increases, her kids stand to access better healthcare and education, and she’s able to strengthen her local economy. And of course, that’s just the beginning. Gender equality makes positive waves ineverydirection.

A few  Things to know:

  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their life
  • Husbands can legally prohibit their wives from working in 18 countries
  • 750 million girls and women around the world were married before turning 18
  • In 49 countries, there are no laws protecting women against domestic violence
  • In 39 countries, daughters do not have the same inheritance rights as their brothers
  • Almost 60% of women are working in the informal economy, which puts them at higher risk of poverty and with little financial security
  • Only 13% of the world’s agricultural land is owned by women

To combat issues like these, the UN has created a list of clear gender equality target goals. They include ending discrimination against all women worldwide, eliminating violence against women and girls, ending child marriage, and offering universal access to reproductive health care. The UN also aims to encourage global recognition of women’s unpaid domestic work and caretaking with social support structures and protections.

The good news is that life for women around the world is improving all the time. Globally, childhood marriage has decreased, more girls are in school, and gender equality legislation is turning up left and right.

But we still have a long way to go, and we’re at a crucial moment in time for global women’s rights. The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting women with increased domestic violence, job loss across the informal economy, and decreased access to healthcare. It’s our global responsibility to make sure women’s equality isn’t set back decades by the struggles of the pandemic.

We want to see a world where women get to decide for themselves how they want their lives to go. A world where women are offered as many educational opportunities, economic independence, and positions of leadership as their male peers.

Equal Rights Change Everything

At TO THE MARKET, we have seen personally how much a woman’s life can change when she has equal rights and economic opportunity. Our founder Jane Mosbacher Morris explains in her book,  Buy the Change You Want to See:

“Work - and the income earned from it - gives people the freedom to use their voice, to speak up for the changes they want and need to see made. Without earning power, others can silence you."

This is why it’s so important to TTM to work with women-owned and women-operated factories as much as possible, and to ensure that our makers are provided with fair wages. We have met makers who have pulled themselves out of poverty, escaped human trafficking, established the economic freedom to leave abusive spouses, and built secure lives for themselves - because they experienced the gender equality in the workplace that they’ve long deserved.

As Janewrote, “the feeling I got from these women was dignity. The women were making money by doing good work, and their income allowed them to begin to take charge of their lives."

How you Can Help

So, how can each of us make a difference? One great way to start is by using the power of your wallet to support women-owned businesses. You can buy your coffee from a woman-owned roaster, or direct your next clothes shopping haul to a female textile artist.

Another great start is to provide a safe space for the women in your life. Offer to mentor girls in your life who are just getting started on their dreams. If you know a woman who is experiencing domestic violence, let her know you’re there for, and help her find the resources she needs.. Encourage the women you know to run for office or go for that big promotion. Big change starts in small interactions, so just make it your goal each day to be an ally for the women around you.

This is just the beginning. There are countless other ways to do our part in the fight for gender equality, and we’re just getting started. Step by step, we’ll build a better world.

Stay tuned for more blog posts in our ongoing SDG series!

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