[Image: A Female Smallholder Farmer in Papua New Guinea | © CARE Australia/Tom Greenwood.]
The last part of 2018 saw me working with some inspiring leaders in the Asia–Pacific all focused on finding ways to place gender equality at the centre of the solution to many of the region's sustainable development challenges.
Now, I've been involved in work where gender equality has been central before, but haven't had the opportunity to look as deeply at the issue before – nor its potential to drive positive and sustainable societal transformation.
In delving into the many challenges that currently face women and girls around the world as they strive to be treated equally, it both depressed me how the gender balance is still so skewed against them, but also inspired me when I saw the potential global impact that addressing gender equality could have for the sustainable development of more than three quarters of the world's population.
Many organisations, governments and communities have already recognised this potential – indeed, it's why Gender Equality is one of the United Nation's key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 5 looks to 'achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls' by 2030, a goal that is necessary due to the fact that in many countries girls still don't have the same access to primary education as boys, and due to the reality that women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.
Solving this inequality matters because it not only contravenes the fundamental human rights of every girl discriminated against or subjected to violence, but also severely limits the socio–economic development of individuals, families, communities and countries. It matters because simply making the world fair for every woman and girl in the world could lift millions of people out of extreme poverty and significantly increase food production for our rapidly growing human population. It matters because achieving greater gender equality would likely reduce the prevalence of armed conflict around the globe. It matters because a world without equality, is a world much less able to solve some of mankind's other global challenges – whether that's climate change, water shortages or food production.
And it matters personally to me because I have two young daughters – two independent and inspiring individuals that I want to see have the same opportunities as every independent and inspiring boy they happen to cross paths with throughout their lives.