United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 5

The Global Goal for Sustainable Development recognizes that the achievement of equitable and transformative development will not be possible if women continue to be denied their full human rights and access to equal opportunities. This is certainly true, but in the pursuit of achieving gender equality, the focus has often been on women: how to remove barriers for the involvement of women, how to empower women, how to ensure that women gain access to health, economic, educational, and other opportunities. Gender equality is not just a woman’s issue.

Equity is relational. Inequities are rooted in uneven dynamics that give disproportionate power to one group versus another. Irrespective of the amount we invest in women, men also need to be willing participants in the redistribution of power between genders. One critical expression of gender inequity across the world is the disproportionate amount of household responsibilities that fall to women. The burden leads to time poverty, the shortage of time as a result of doing unpaid household work and can often reinforce the gender gap and unequal power dynamics between men and women.

A narrow focus on empowering women and girls can unintentionally sustain some of the deeper systemic challenges that lead to gender inequality. It can hold us back from capitalizing on the social, economic, and political benefits of a more equal and equitable society. Supporting gender equity requires a broad range of actors, including companies, foundations, and NGOs to engage boys and men as supporters, participants, and associate in the fight for gender equality.

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