Could empowering women help us meet all the Sustainable Development Goals?
The United Nations sets out an inspiring ambition in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
This bold goal is supported by targets and indicators that help define what it means in more practical terms. Encouragingly, empowering women is a tremendous catalyst to achieve many of the other SDGs. In fact, a recent policy brief points out, “Among the 230 unique global SDG indicators, 53 explicitly reference women, girls, gender, or sex.”
Some are obvious, others might be surprising. For example, ensuring women’s participation and leadership in decision making can help address inequalities (SDG 10) and contribute to more peaceful and inclusive societies (SDG 16). It can also lead to improved social outcomes like family health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4). Giving women voice and agency can be transformative even in environmental management – from ecosystem conservation to climate change mitigation.
Assessing gender impact
Despite these linkages, UN Women found that there are no internationally established methodologies or standards for 23 out of the 53 gender-related indicators. So how do we leverage gender equality for all to help us deliver on the broader Agenda 2030? Even more fundamentally – how do we measure progress?
Gold Standard’s newly launched Gender Equality Framework aims to solve this problem. And there are few better ways to maximize positive benefits for women and girls than through clean cooking solutions.
The links between cooking and gender equality
About 3 billion people – almost 40% of the world’s population – still rely on cooking over an open fire to feed their families. Inhaling these toxic fumes and soot lead to 2.6 million premature deaths each year, primarily women and children.
Beyond dire health impacts, the inefficiency of this cooking method consumes hours of women’s time each day. It even has implications on sexual violence, as women and girls often must travel dangerous distances alone to collect fuel for cooking. A recent UN Foundation blog also highlighted gender-based violence in refugee camps that stems from shortages in fuel.
Clean cooking solutions contribute positively to gender equality and many other SDGs. Photo: Paradigm Project
Measuring – and maximizing – progress
Gold Standard-certified projects are required to contribute positively to climate protection plus two additional development benefits. For years, projects that deliver clean and efficient cooking solutions to communities have tackled many of these social, economic, and environmental challenges. These efforts have helped lower household spending on fuel, minimize women’s ‘drudgery’ or the many hours spent on unpaid work like fuel collection and long cooking times, and reduce their exposure to deadly fumes.
Now with clearly defined SDG 5 indicators and more evidence of the transformative potential for women’s empowerment to fight climate change and achieve other development goals, Gold Standard’s Gender Equality Framework takes this to the next level.
The Framework’s ‘Gender Sensitive Requirements’ ensure that projects anchor gender equality at the core of their design. With a strong project design, the Framework’s Gender Responsive Guidelines can then help assess impact to a wide range of SDG 5 indicators:
- Increase in school enrollment and graduation rates
- Increase in income generation opportunities and equal pay
- Improved access to financial mechanisms
- Incentives to recruit women, increase capacity and provide career development
- Time saved in collecting and carrying water, fuel, and forest products and putting it to better use
Quantification to unlock funding
By quantifying and certifying gender impacts, projects can tap into additional funding from an increasing pool of gender-lens investors and a rising demand to credibly report on what dollars have delivered. The Gold Standard Gender Equality Framework is flexible and indicators can be selected according to what funders or projects priorities.
This gender-disaggregated impact data can also be used to track progress at a regional or national level, helping policymakers to develop effective evidence-based policies and enabling tracking of progress toward the SDGs in initiatives like the Global Partnership for SDGs.
What’s clear is that gender issues are complex, but addressing them can be transformative. Indeed, closing gender gaps can accelerate progress towards many other Sustainable Development Goals.
Conversely, poverty, education, health, jobs and livelihoods, food security, environmental and energy sustainability will not be solved without addressing gender inequality. If we’re serious about the bold ambition of ‘gender equality for all’, we first need to know how we’re doing in the race to 2030 and, critically, get the most out of every development dollar we spend.
The Gold Standard Gender Equality Framework was developed with support from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure – Department of Environment. Organizations looking to help empower women and girls can support projects making a measurable difference in gender equality by funding Gold Standard Certified SDG 5 Impacts. Find out more here. Project developers who wish to apply the Gender Equality Framework may contact email@example.com to find out how to get started.