Poverty is Sexist. A blog by SI Interns New York, Olivia Lin and Maria Pilar Gallardo
“On Friday September 23, we attended the meeting, ‘Leaving no one behind: Agents of change for achieving Goal 5 and the 2030 Agenda’, which was organised by the Mission of Canada at the United Nations Headquarters. The meeting focused on SDG Goal 5: gender equality, with a particular focus on the empowerment of women and girls. The goals of the meeting were promoting the right to sexual health, ending violence against women, ending child marriage, women being involved in politics, and the importance of civil society.
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister for International Development, started the event with this bold statement: “Poverty is sexist”. Women and girls are still the most affected by several challenges, including, infectious diseases and poverty. In this regard, 70,000 girls are infected by HIV every single week in developing countries, and have limited access to healthcare. Also, each year, around 50 million girls under 15 are forced into marriage. Since they have no right to have an education, they miss their opportunity to reach their full potential. As Ms. Bideau indicated, we need those girls to fully participate in the social and political life of their community. Otherwise, society would be wasting the potential of half of its population.
Alaa Murabit is a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth. She is one of only 17 Sustainable Development Goal Global Advocates appointed by the UN Secretary General. The New York Times named her the ‘International Trust Women Hero 2014’ and a ‘100 Top Woman’ by the BBC. Murabit’s TED Talk, ‘What my Religion Really Says About Women’, was selected as the TED Talk of the Day. In her speech, she mentioned that when girls are educated, they are less likely to marry young. Leaving no one behind really means you should put human needs before any other factors. She cannot stress enough that the UN and civil society must recognize and work on the issues locally because women and girls know their needs in their local community. She believes the local civil society has the power to change their environment and make a difference. Alaa Murabit is truly a young inspiring and passionate woman.
Education is one of the keys for gender equality. We all have to play a role in making gender equality a reality as well as contributing to women and girls empowerment. It is necessary to hear the voices that have not been heard until now. Making everyone count and leaving no one behind is a vital component of achieving SDG 5: Gender equality.