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Sustainable Development Goal 5: The Indian Reality

What is sustainable development?

Sustainable Development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. The Brundtland Commission gave this most widely accepted definition of Sustainable Development in its report Our Common Future (1987). Sustainable development calls for concerted efforts towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and the planet.

What is Sustainable Development Goal 5?

Sustainable development goal 5 aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women in public and private spheres. It seeks to undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources and property ownership access.

Why is Sustainable Development Goal 5 important?

Gender equality is a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Unfortunately, in present times, 1 in 5 women and girls between the ages of 15-49 have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within 12 months, and 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.  One in three women experiences some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

Reflecting on these data, we can clearly say, gender inequality is one of the most persistent and widespread forms of injustice.

Promoting gender equality and empowering women was one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to which India was a signatory.

In 2015, the leaders of 193 nations pledged the Sustainable Development Goal 5 to end gender inequality in all forms by 2030, highlighting that gender equality was a priority for the world leaders for the first time. Additionally, in response to long-standing abuse and discrimination patterns, women worldwide have raised their voices and have brought attention to inequalities like never before. It’s clear that gender inequality runs more in-depth than many of us understood, does more damage than we admitted, and needs to be urgently addressed

The targets to be achieved by 2030 are as follows:

5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other exploitation types.

5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

5.4 Recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work by providing public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.

5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal leadership opportunities at all decision-making levels in the political, economic and public sphere.

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed by the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.

5.a Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources and access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, following national laws.

5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, mainly information and communications technology, to promote women’s empowerment.

5.c  Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

The Indian Reality

India’s Goal for 2030 is to empower all women to live a dignified life, contributing as equal partners in the country’s growth and development in an environment free from violence and discrimination. India has set six national-level indicators to capture four out of nine SDG targets under SDG 5. 

The Sex Ratio: The sex ratio at birth in India is 898 females per 1000 males. The national target is to achieve the natural sex ratio at birth of 954 females for 1000 males. Two States, namely Chhattisgarh and Kerala, have achieved this target with a sex ratio at birth of 963 and 959 respectively.

Wage gap: Average wages and salaries of females are 70 per cent of males for regular wage and salaried employees in India’s age group 15-59 years. The national goal is to achieve equal pay for men and women. Only the UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the female wage rate is higher than that of male, and in Andaman and Nicobar islands, the female wage rate is equal to that of male. Women hold 8.7 per cent of seats in the State Legislative Assemblies.

Domestic violence: As per the National Family Health Survey of 2015-16, one in every three married women aged between 15 to 49 years experience a physical, sexual or emotional form of spousal violence. The survey highlights that spousal violence reduces with a rise in education and wealth control amongst women. This data shows this goal is interlinked with Quality education (SDG 4) and Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).

Women in leadership: 8.7 percent of seats in the State Legislative Assemblies are held by women. The national target is to have 50 percent of the seats be held by men and women each. No State/UT has achieved this target yet. Among all the legislative assemblies in the country, Rajasthan and West Bengal’s legislative assemblies have the highest representation of women at 14 percent and 13.95 percent, respectively.

Labour force participation: Labour force participation rate of women in India is only 32 percent of men’s labour force participation rate. The national target for 2030 is to have an equal labour force participation rate for women and men. While no state in India has achieved this target yet, Nagaland has the highest performance, with women’s labour force participation rate being 76 percent.

India is committed, both constitutionally and through its policies, to achieve gender equality in all spheres of life. The Constitution of India prohibits discrimination based on gender, upholds women’s right to participate in political and decision-making processes, and reiterates its commitments towards women’s socio-economic well-being in India. To further efforts towards this goal, India has also launched several national-level schemes and programs. The Gender Budget Statement was introduced in the government budget of 2005-2006 to highlight the differential impact of budgets on men and women by dissecting allocations and utilisations under government schemes and programs by sex.

The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign aims to ensure girls are born, nurtured, and educated without discrimination to become empowered citizens of this country. Schemes like Sukanya Samridhi Yojana and the Janani Suraksha Yojana ensure the girl child and the mother’s well-being and prosperity. Under the MUDRA initiative, financial assistance is provided to female entrepreneurs. One-StopOne Stop Centre aims to ensure the safety and integrity of women. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard rural women’s health by providing them with clean cooking fuel.

Achieving the global target of Gender Equality cannot be achieved by focussing on SDG 5 alone. Relating it with other SGDs and focusing on the holistic development of women and their environment will help in accelerating our efforts.

The Sustainable Development Goal 5  has resulted in the decline of the maternal mortality rate, reduced poverty, worked for the improved health of the people, spread awareness about communicable and non-communicable diseases. Efforts are being taken for providing better medication to the world and mental illness is also being taken as a major However, a faster and more ambitious response is needed to unleash the social and economic transformation needed to achieve our 2030 goals. A far more optimistic future is still attainable only by drastically changing development policies, incentives and actions.

Do read our blog on Sustainable Development Goals

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