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Gender aspects in Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8

Read how Christine Bigler summarises the gender aspect of Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8 of the Agenda 2030.

The fifth and eighth Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030 are relevant to the question of how sustainability on a global level needs a gender perspective. The goals have several subgoals. Here we share our view of them.

As we have seen, Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls for equal opportunities between men and women in economic development, the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, the elimination of forced marriage, and equal participation at all levels.

Subgoal 5.4, “Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work”, emphasises the importance of unpaid domestic labour. It is highly relevant when analysing the labour market from a gender perspective. Reproductive and unpaid work are vital parts of the economy and critical for the functioning of the productive sphere. These tasks are mostly carried out by women.

Sustainable Development Goal 8 aims to “[p]romote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. 10 subgoals accompany this goal, addressing economic growth and full employment as well as decent work.

For instance, subgoal 8.1 states: “Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries”. It is important to note that economic growth is only a means that might, but does not always, lead to the creation of more jobs and better work conditions.

Furthermore, data shows that slower economic growth creates more inequality within a society than extensive economic growth. However, the relationship between economic growth, poverty reduction and inequality is complex.

Subgoal 8.5 states: “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value”. This subgoal calls for decent work for all workers and stresses that only decent working conditions will enhance human development.

In our analysis, Sustainable Development Goal 8, which advocates sustainable growth and decent work for all, falls short of its own ambition by failing to address the issues of unpaid care and domestic work and thus of gender equality.

In fact, it would be good to merge Sustainable Development Goal 8.5 with Sustainable Development Goal 5.4, which details the need to recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work.

What do you think?

© University of Basel
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Gender and Labour in the Global South

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