“There is no great force for change, for peace, for justice and democracy, for inclusive economic growth than a world of empowered women.” - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address key development challenges and women’s empowerment is central to achieving these goals. While SDG Goal 5 is specifically dedicated to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, and it is widely agreed in the international development community that gender equality is an essential part of economic development, gender equality is achieved when women and men, girls and boys, have equal rights, conditions, opportunities and power to shape their own lives and affect society. The Strategies of our donors and partners identify gender equality as smart development policy and business practice, and many of them have made it a cornerstone of their agendas.
Gender and women’s empowerment are a feature in several GPOBA projects, with specific targeting and consideration around access for women and girls. Below are some examples of GPOBA subsidy projects and support demonstrating efforts toward the aim of achieving gender equality:
Water: In many developing countries, retrieving water is a task performed by women. As a result, having access to drinking water and improved sanitation close to home allows women to participate in more productive activities. Our projects in Kenya, Indonesia, Morocco, Uganda and Vietnam have made positive impacts in rural communities and the lives of these women.
Sanitation: Lack of sanitation facilities and poor hygiene is a cause for the spread of disease, with women and children often suffering the most from the consequences. In response to the issue of safety, GPOBA’s most recently supported project in sanitation in Bangladesh takes into consideration the needs of female users in the design of the facilities, such as ensuring that the facilities are conveniently located, well lit, and have lockable doors (elements not commonly found in public toilets). GPOBA has also helped bring improved sanitation services to Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Energy: Improved lighting, especially electricity as a substitute for kerosene lamps helps to extend the hours in which women can engage in productive activity and have more time to dedicate to education and improve health conditions. Rural electrification projects we supported by in Ethiopia have enabled women to spend less time gathering wood fuels, freeing time for other productive activities. Other projects in Bangladesh, Kenya, Vanuatu, the Philippines, Mali, and Zambia contribute to improving the lives of women.
Health: Health projects specifically address gender-related risks, particularly maternal health and safe childbirth, which when targeted correctly significantly reduce maternal mortality, as well as the burden of disability related to pregnancy and delivery. Our maternal health project in Uganda, has resulted in 26,000 assisted deliveries with the full scale rollout of over 250 health facilities and will soon be expanding services to provide Post-Partum Family Planning (PPFP) services.
Many lessons have been learned in incorporating and designing sensitivities to gender in the projects supported by GPOBA. These lessons will continue to be integrated in our strategy and projects going forward so that we maximize the impact our projects and improving lives in poor communities.