What 2015 Means for Girls
What 2015 Means for Girls
When the ball dropped at midnight in January, most media wasn’t covering a milestone creeping closer and closer as we entered 2015 - the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The list of targets for international development follows the Millenium Development Goals, which were created in 2000 and are set to expire this year. To build upon the MDGs, the SDGs encompass seventeen core areas of development we need for a sustainable, peaceful world, ranging from protecting the ocean to improving quality of education to universalizing access to technology.
Yet perhaps the most important, and most strikingly different from the MDGs, is Goal Four: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. In the MDGs, the goal had been worded, “Promote gender equality and empower women.” The difference is subtle, but of extreme importance. It means having new targets, such as ending child marriage and FGM, ensuring that all girls are registered at birth (receiving birth certificates, and gaining recognition by the state.) Investing in girls is investing in the future. Educated women reinvest 90% of their incomes back into their families, while men only reinvest 30-40%. Educated women are more likely to send their own children to school, have 2.5 fewer children, marry later, have higher income, contribute to her country’s GDP, and be HIV-free. Investing in women is great, and educated, healthy girls become empowered women, the foundation of society.
The UN is not only focusing more and more on gendered issues, but incorporating youth into their work. Through campaigns like #YouthNow, the UN has truly made an effort to hear from young people and the issues affecting them. And in the international MYWorld2015 campaign, a survey covering the world’s most pressing problems and their relative importance, over two-thirds of participants were under 30. Young people have been underestimated, but we are bearing the brunt of systems our adult predecessors put in place for us to live under. It is our fundamental human right to participate in reparations of the world. A powerful youth-led movement must be inclusive, reaching people of all genders, abilities, nationalities, and more in order to maximize its full potential. By harnessing the capabilities of the voices least heard in society, we will know not only equality but also a powerful and productive future.
It has never been a better time to be young and female. More women than ever are working outside the home, and more girls are going to school. We still have a tremendously long way to go, but the future is bright and it is only going to get brighter.
Celia is a sophomore at New Trier High School. She is passionate about human rights, gender equality, and service learning. Celia is a Teen Advisor for the United Nations Foundation campaign Girl Up, which empowers American girls to support their adolescent counterparts living in developing countries. She is also an ambassador to UNICEF and volunTEEN nation, and has served on DoSomething.org's Youth Advisory Council.