Gender inequality is one of the oldest and most pervasive forms of inequality in the world. It denies women their voices, devalues their work and make women’s position unequal to men’s, from the household to the national and global levels.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. 

There has been progress over the last decades: More girls are going to school, fewer girls are forced into early marriage, more women are serving in parliament and positions of leadership, and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality. 

Despite these gains, many challenges remain: discriminatory laws and social norms remain pervasive, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership, and 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period. 

As Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. This is certainly true in the fight to achieve gender equality  

The positive effects of education include improved maternal health, reduced infant mortality and fertility rates, increased prevention against HIV and AIDS, in addition to increased opportunities for women and girls. Policymakers and governments emphasise establishing gender parity in enrolment and attainment rates.

Education of women and girls can also help in the fight against climate change. New research, published in Nature Communications, shows that empowering women through improved healthcare, education, and representation in government could help societies adapt more quickly and easily to the impacts of a changing climate.

At present, more than 70% of girls experience high levels of gender inequality – predominantly in developing countries – the study says. However, it finds that if society can follow a pathway of sustainable development in the coming decades, progress towards achieving gender equality could see this number could drop below 25% by 2030.

Join me for and some esteemed guests from around the world to discuss this important issue on International Women’s Day, you can register for the Gender Equality and Sustainable Development on our Facebook page.