Tough and massive

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The United Nations (UN) has gained headway in most of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but countries have hardly advanced in the gender equality development blueprint.

In a study released last week, poverty is still seen as a major factor for this failure.

But it was also surprising that even in some economically advanced countries, one of these 17 goals has not been met fully.

The UN members had committed to the SDG in 2015. They had adopted goals to advance education, climate and gender equality to see a changed world by 2030.

The benchmark for gender equality, however, has not been moving towards the intended direction. And poverty is a key factor that needs to be addressed.

It is safe to say that understanding the gender equality issue has not improved in many poor countries, which could not devote funds and time in promoting values against gender bias and bigotry. But, it does not mean that these had been eliminated in some more economically advanced countries.

Just days ago, a report about a lesbian couple mugged in a London bus went viral on social media. It was a homophobic attack, which we thought would no longer transpire in a country like the United Kingdom. But it did and it happens everywhere.

The UN report also claims countries are not on the right track in meeting the gender equality benchmark.

There is still a need to eliminate discrimination and violence against women. Ending harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, is also an area that needs immediate focus.

A wire report quoted Alison Holder, director of Equal Measures 2030, which put together the SDG Gender Index report, as saying, “We’re literally failing to deliver on the gender equality promises made in the SDG for billions of girls and women.”

“Even more worrying for me is 1.4 billion girls and women live in countries that got a ‘very poor’ failing score on the index,” she added.

She disclosed this on the sidelines of the Women Deliver gender equality conference in Vancouver.

A survey of 129 countries showed wealthy nations like Finland, Sweden, Norway and The Netherlands have made the most progress in this goal.

Yet still, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Yemen and Niger could not catch up. These are less-developed countries that need support in meeting the SDG program.

But Senegal is an eye-opener.

Despite its economic standing, it is said to be closer to achieving gender parity compared with the more developed Denmark.

But the report was clear that no country has fully achieved gender equality.

According to Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, chief executive officer of Plan International, a child rights charity that contributed to the report, leaders of the member countries should show political will in investing more in the effort.

Campaigns by advocacy groups and activists are being encouraged to bolster understanding and speed up actions in advancing gender equality.

“Clever political campaigns to generate actions” are needed, Albrectsen said.

Although gender equality has taken leaps of improvement in terms of acceptance in the Philippines, we have not seen the full potential of the government and the private sector keeping up with the campaign based on the SDG program.

While same-sex unions and ceremonial marriages are performed by a handful of churches for gay and lesbian couples in the country, these remain unrecognized by the state.

Philippine political leaders could not gamble on the issue, as they fear a backlash from the religious sector. But it is proof that the separation of Church and State does not work well as the framers of the 1987 Constitution have deemed it. And we are not talking about just the Catholic Church.

Despite the improved economy, meeting the SDG gender equality program also remains bleak for the Philippines.

We only have a dozen years to erase centuries of false beliefs and biases. It is a very tall order.

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