While some forms of discrimination against women and girls are diminishing, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities. Empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes as well as developing progressive legal frameworks that promote equality between women and men (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019).

The facts

Gender equality is a fundamental and inviolable human right. Yet women around the world continue to face significant economic, social, and legal barriers to equality. Women are more likely than men to be unemployed, to be overrepresented in low wage jobs, to hold fewer managerial, entrepreneurial and leadership positions, and on average, to only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 18 countries, men can legally prevent their wives from working. Women continue to bear disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work and often experience maternity-related discrimination. Women entrepreneurs also face particular challenges to building and growing their businesses including lack of access to financing and business networks. In fact, less than 1% of spending by large businesses on suppliers is earned by women-owned businesses (UNGC, 2018).

The focus of SDG 5

The aim of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019). The targets related to SDG5 are broad and include:

  • Ending discrimination, violence, harmful practices against women and children.
  • Ensuring full and active participation in decision-making in all spheres of work.
  • Providing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
  • Undertaking reforms to improve women’s’ access to economic resources, ownership and control.
  • Improving access to enabling technology.
  • Strengthening policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment.

Australia is Not Winning at Achieving Gender Equality

A recent report published by the Sustainable Development Institute on Australia’s progress on the SDGs shows that progress is being made in  the areas of health and education, but not in terms of gender, climate change and housing affordability. In relation to SDG 5, the research found:

  • Only 11 women lead ASX200 companies.
  • Only 32% of Australian parliamentarians are female.
  • Women continue to face far greater economic insecurity than men. This is particularly evident at retirement, when women’s superannuation balances are just 42% that of men’s.
  • The gender pay gap has barely reduced in 20 years.

The burden of unpaid domestic duties still falls predominantly to women, with only 12% of men undertaking more than 15 hours of household chores each week, compared with 33% of women. In addition, the proportion of women and girls subjected to physical, sexual and psychological violence remains unacceptably high. Domestic and family violence remains the leading cause of death and disability for women aged 18 to 44.

LTU and SDG 5

“La Trobe is committed to achieving equality of opportunity in education and employment. We strive to create and support a safe, equal and inclusive community, where staff and students of all genders have equal access to power, resources and opportunities, and are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.”

LTU Diversity & Inclusion

La Trobe University has several initiatives that drive gender equality, including:

  • Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Employer of Choice: The University was awarded a second, consecutive prestigious citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as an Employer of Choice for Gender. The citation recognises LTU’s efforts to support gender equality, including the development of a Women in Research Strategy, scholarships for undergraduate women supporting gender diversity and social inclusion, introduction of flexible workplace practices, access to child care support, and our proactive stance on violence against women prevention.
  • Women’s Academic Promotions Support Program: The program is designed to demystify the promotion process and provide peer support through senior mentors and mentor groups, has resulted of an increase in the number of academic promotion applications received from women.
  • Square the ledger: In its 50th year, La Trobe partnered with the Victorian Women’s Trust to embark on a project to ‘square the ledger’by documenting and celebrating the ordinary and extraordinary lives of women who have walked the halls of the University — as students, educators, and administrators.
  • Male Champions of Change: LTU’s Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar is a gender pay equity ambassador with WGEA, a member of the Male Champions of Change and Chair of the Women’s Economic Security Committee.

SDG Video

The fifth video in the SDG series was produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France. In the video, Dr Céline Louche explains the objective of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.  She covers the facts and figures, the targets for SDG 5, and the role that business can play. Business can focus on women in leadership, equal remuneration for women and men, diversity and equal opportunities, childcare services and benefits, workplace violence, and harassment. Dr Louche also interviews Christine Naschberger, Professor of Management and Human Resources at Audencia Business School, on gender equality in the workplace, how gender inequality manifests itself in that workplace and the importance of networking.  

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. 
More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4