Why 2016 is going to be a game-changing year for gender equality

SDG-Goal-5---Gender-equalityWe’re living in one of the most critical moments in human history, where we not only have the momentum, but also the power, to change our world for girls and women. Never before has there been a greater global commitment to gender equality than right now.

2016 marks the start of a 15-year plan to achieve 17 goals that will create a better, brighter future for everyone and for our planet. Goal 5 of these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to eliminate gender inequality and empower all women and girls. This will not be an easy feat, but with united efforts, it’s possible – and it’s already happening.

More girls are in school

A girl in a classroom.Education is every child’s right. And yet, girls face unique challenges that hold them back from the education they deserve, like child marriage, gender discrimination and gender-based violence.

So, at the start of the millennium, world leaders came together in the first truly united effort to promote gender equality. As a result, by the end of 2015 there were more girls receiving primary education than ever before!

A painting of a woman speaking to a large crowd.More women are leading change

In politics and in boardrooms, there are more female leaders and decision-makers than any other point in history. In fact, the percentage of women in government has doubled in the last 20 years!

While still far from equal representation in most cases, many women at the top are using their voices to speak out about the gender gap, and pave the way for the next wave of women leaders. And this applies to other industries, like entertainment, academia and so much more. Women are leading, mentoring and inspiring change!

More men are speaking up for equal rights

A man speaking into a microphone.

Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of activist and youngest Nobel Prize Recipient Malala Yousafzai, is vocal about his support for girls’ education and rights.

Gender equality is good for everyone. Fighting for the rights of girls and women doesn’t mean diminishing the rights of boys and men. Boys and men are allies, and play a critical role in promoting equal rights.

When boys and men champion the rights of their sisters, daughters, wives and mothers, they’re showing their support for a brighter future for us all. After all, no country can advance when half the population is held back.

To date, more than 600,000 boys and men have committed their support through the United Nations He for She campaign, but we know the number is much higher because men like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are leading by example, fathers like Nazir in Bangladesh are protecting their daughter’s rights, and boys like Mohamed from Sierra Leone are speaking up for their sisters.

More to come

These achievements just scratch the surface of what our world is capable of doing when we act together. The next 15 years will be challenging – ending gender inequality means eliminating behaviours and practices deeply engrained in cultures and societies around the world. But, in 2030 when we look back at this fight, our victory will be all the more sweet.

This is our planet, our goals, our future.

Goals for a better, brighter future

Be part of this historic movement for real, sustainable change! Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals, take action to make a difference and tell us which goal matters the most to you in the comments below.