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Gender and the Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable development is an integral part of international policy, particularly since the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) by UN states in September 2015. Goal five is ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ and gender equality is referenced throughout the targets for all Goals. 

Gender equality is an essential part of sustainable development. For example, the worsening shortage of, and lack of access to, resources such as water, energy and food sources could have huge implications for gender equality. Climate change is another important issue which in many ways acts as a magnifying glass, exposing risks and exacerbating pre-existing gender inequalities in women’s access to and control of resources and power. 

Women are already playing a crucial role in developing sustainable development solutions, but their contributions are often not recognised. There is often a significant gender disparity in decision-making at all levels: from local communities to international governance. 

The increased entry of women into paid work in more recent times has not been matched by a change in the the gendered division of unpaid care work. Sustainable development and women's empowerment calls for a fair and equitable balance between unpaid care work and paid work. 

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) 

The 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14-24 March 2016, attended by state representatives, advocates for gender equality and UN representatives from across the world. 

The priority theme for this year’s CSW is ‘Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.’ Often associated with the environment, the UN has used a wider definition for sustainability as calling for: ‘a decent standard of living for everyone today without compromising the needs of future generations.’  

Below are a number of selected recent resources on gender and the sustainable development goals.  

This update is adapted from a news article written by Amy Hall.