Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, as outlined in Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals, is a necessity for development. As long as there is gender-based discrimination anywhere, dismantling any structures of power that cause this must be a priority so that there is not unequal development. Development must also include creating opportunities and an environment for all women and girls to participate fully and meaningfully in society without fear of violence or exploitation.

The obstacles to development are enormous for many women and girls, with particular challenges in poor countries, and the figures bear this out: Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women, which makes it harder for them to earn an income, take advantage of opportunities available in their societies, and protect their interests and rights; Women are society’s primary carers, yet some 500,000 women die each year due to preventable pregnancy-related complications, often as a result of not having access to health care; and An estimated one-third of all women have been violently abused.

Women and girls across the world are disproportionately affected by harmful exploitative practices such as human trafficking and sexual abuse. These problems, along with other harmful practices such as child, early, and forced marriages, and female genital mutilation, are hoping to be eradicated as part of Agenda 2030.

With global poverty affecting women and children especially, everyone interested in the well-being of all people must pay special attention to removing the obstacles that face women and girls in achieving equality, development and peace.

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