Failure to take such steps is exacting a devastating physical, psychological, social, and economic toll on countries.
The single highest barrier to development globally is neither hunger nor disease. It is gender-based discrimination and violence. That is why achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 – gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls – is a prerequisite for progress on the other 16 SDGs. And yet, with only a decade left to complete the SDG agenda, governments continually fail to uphold girls and women’s most basic rights.
The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, more than one in three (35%) women will experience physical or sexual intimate-partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Few see their attackers punished, and many cannot access sexual and reproductive health care after the fact, even in countries that have ratified international instruments guaranteeing the right to such care.
In 2015, the WHO and other United Nations agencies attempted to help address these lapses with the Essential Services Package for Women and Girls Subject to Violence. The package serves as a tool to identify what countries’ health, social services, police, and justice sectors must provide to all women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence, and lays out guidelines for coordination. Failure to take such steps is exacting a devastating physical, psychological, social, and economic toll on countries. Women deserve to be safe in their homes, at school or work, in hospitals, and on the streets. Only when they are not struggling to survive can they – and their communities – truly thrive. – Tlaleng Mofokeng, a member of the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa.
By ; Tlaleng Mofokeng .
Tlaleng Mofokeng, a member of the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa.