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Module 2: GENDER EQUALITY (SDG5)
GENDER EQUALITY (SDG5) AND THE ACQUISITION OF 21ST CENTURY SKILLS
The overall aim of Sustainable Development Goal 5
The Sustainable Development Goal 5, “Gender Equality”, strives to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls. According to the United Nations (2015, p.6), the main reason this goal should be achieved is the fact that every single woman and girl has the right to be treated equally and without the fear of physical or sexual abuse/violence, since the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities. Additionally, granting the equal rights and opportunities to women and girls is the fundamental foundation for a sustainable and peaceful world.
But still today we know that violence against women is a very crucial problem – for example 18% of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 to 49 years have experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence. Although women make 39% of the workforce, only 27% of managerial positions are held by a woman. In 18 countries, husbands have the right by law to prevent their wives from working and in 39 countries sons and daughters do not have equal inheritance rights. Those mentioned are just some of the problems women and girls must face today.
As part of the sustainable development goal 5 nine targets have been set to change the unfavourable situation of women and girls (United Nations, 2015):
End all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
End all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
End all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work by providing public services, infrastructure and social protection policies. Promote shared responsibility within the household and the family.
Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.
Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
Why is SDG5 important for education community?
Educational community has a vital role to play in making sure that the Sustainable Development Goal 5 will be successfully achieved. Equal access to good education is an important part of girls’ and women’s empowerment. According to UNESCO, more girls than boys still remain out of school. It has been estimated that 16 million girls will never have the opportunity to go to school, while out of 750 million adults without basic literacy skills, two thirds are women. Moreover, the Education 2030 Framework for Action recognizes that gender equality requires a multi-dimensional educational approach that ‘ensures that girls and boys, women and men not only gain access to and complete education cycles, but are empowered equally in and through education’ (p.28).
If girls receive proper education, there will be a considerable boost in gender equality – educated women earn more than those without education; each additional year in education is associated with lower chances of getting married or having a child as a child; education has been seen as an important factor to successful family-planning and sexual education; and the more educated the woman is the more agency and social capital she will have in her life. But what keeps girls out of school? There are several possible answers: poverty, minority status, geographical isolation, early marriage, disability, pregnancy, gender-based violence, traditional attitudes about the status and role of women, etc (Wodon et al., 2018, p.3-5). Therefore, it should be educational community’s special interest to detect the obstacles which might be stopping girls from getting good education in their communities and to then tackle these obstacles. Moreover, education community has an important role to play in ensuring gender equality in society.
Education community can play a significant role in the effort to achieve wider gender equality by addressing social norms and gender expectations; by promoting new patterns of beliefs and attitudes based on non-discrimination and non-violence; and by avoiding the reproduction or reinforcement of social inequalities. The education community must be sensitive to the physical, psychological and social differences between male and female learners, but should value and respect both equally and provide equal opportunities to all learners. This requires action at multiple levels, ensuring equality of access ‘to education (providing equal opportunities for learning), within education (gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory and transformative learning environments, educational contents, and pedagogies), and through education (equality of outcome, life and work opportunities)’ (UNESCO, 2013, p.2).
Key dimensions of Sustainable Development Goal 5
To reach the full potential of SDG5, then equal access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes are required. These are crystallized in the learning objectives set by UNESCO regarding all SDGs (2017, p.25). Concerning SDG5:
The cognitive learning objectives indicate that the learner should understand basic gender concepts and get informed about gender discrimination, gender violence and inequality, while at the same time s/he has her/his own culture as a reference point to compare to global norms. Moreover, the learner should comprehend the role of education, technology and legislation in empowering and ensuring the full participation of all genders.
The socio-emotional learning objectives indicate that the learner should be able to recognize and question traditional perceptions of gender roles; identify and speak up against all forms of discrimination; empower those who may still be disempowered; reflect on her/his own gender identity; and feel empathy and solidarity with those who differ.
The behavioural learning objectives indicate that the learners should be able to empower themselves and other who are discriminated against because of their gender; participate in and influence decision-making regarding gender equality; observe and identify gender discrimination; and implement, support and evaluate strategies for gender equality.
The interplay between Sustainable Development Goal 5 and the acquisition of 21st century skills
To achieve the sustainable development goal 5 which seeks to ensure gender equality for everyone and everywhere, education is crucial part and foundation for further success. Every girl and woman should have access to education and right to acquire 21st century skills to give their contribution to the society and fulfil their dreams and callings. Successful accomplishment of the SDG 5 ensures that almost half of the world population would access education and therefore acquire 21st century skills.
As one of the main ideas behind the concept of 21st century skills is to prepare people for the rapid changes and all possible challenges that future holds, it is inevitably necessary to engage all people regardless of their gender. If society wants to be well prepared for all the obstacles and opportunities the future holds for us, it is important not to hold back half of its potential – girls and women.
Two of the key concepts of 21st century skills are creativity and innovation. As it is widely known innovation and creativity prosper when different people have the freedom and means to express themselves freely and without any constraints. To great successful social or technological innovation which would make life easier for many people, it is essential that the voices of women and girls must be heard, and their experiences involved. That can only be fully achieved when the gender equality is granted for everyone and everywhere.