2016 marked the launch of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets, setting the development agenda for the next 15 years. Through the SDGs, UN member states have made a global commitment that ‘no one will be left behind’, focusing on the sustainability of development work in economic, social and environmental spheres. The inclusion of SDG 5 as a standalone goal for girls’ and women’s empowerment calls attention to the barriers girls face in accessing education, their experiences of genderbased violence and harmful cultural practices, and their reality of carrying the burden of unpaid labour and care work. The bottom line is that girls are systematically subjected to major rights violations.
- Worldwide, about 1 in 7 adolescent girls between the ages of 15 to 19 are currently married or in a union. The highest rates of child marriage occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where 4 in 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday (UNICEF, 2016).
- More than 130 million girls are out of secondary school around the world (UNESCO, 2016). Barriers to girls’ education include early marriage, the responsibility to care for younger siblings and the need to work.
- Globally, at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, with the majority of girls being cut before turning five years old (UN Women, 2016).
Adolescence is a time of transition from childhood into adulthood, a time of growth and opportunity, when one can take active steps towards deciding one’s future. However, gender discrimination, which girls already face in childhood, often becomes more pronounced as they near adulthood. The challenges girls have to contend with in their daily lives are obstacles to their future, inevitably posing a threat to their empowerment.
At Women Win, our efforts align with the SDG 5 and the overall aim to support girls’ empowerment. We believe that every girl has the potential to lead – herself, her peers and her community. Research shows that giving girls and women more opportunities to make informed decisions gives rise to change over time that reverberates far beyond the individual. Empowered girls and women are able to actively direct their own future, while at the same time impacting the lives of others in the social and cultural context they live in: building a stronger community, a more stable nation and eventually -collectively - a more equal world.
Women Win believes that by improving the wellbeing of girls and developing their leadership skills, we can deliver a measurable, positive impact with the distinct possibility of generating exponential benefits in addressing some of the world’s most complex, omnipresent issues.