In recent years, the international community has become increasingly invested in the struggle for human rights and sustainable development. This means working towards a world free of inequality, where all persons have agency and access to the resources necessary to succeed and achieve. Evidence shows that inequality harms poverty reduction, the quality of public and political relations, and an individual’s sense of self-worth and fulfillment. MALA joins the United Nations in championing a vision in which the rights of all people are respected and defended equally; this must be the basis for any attempt at development or progress that hopes to succeed.
A major component in the defense and improvement of human rights is working to make resources available to the developing world through means that are sustainable and socially responsible. Today, nearly 2.2 billion people live below the $2US poverty line, while global unemployment increased by over 30 million between 2007 and 2012. These disparities and others can be addressed through the economic empowerment of developing and marginalized communities by promoting sustainable, inclusive access to financial services that seek to integrate those communities and individuals into larger value chains and markets. Sustainability and responsible practice are essential to providing these economic tools, which can ultimately provide crucial leverage for developing communities everywhere.
In order to further advance the goals of human rights and sustainable development around the world, it is crucial that we enhance and embolden political and economic leadership opportunities for women. Progress is being made; in 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 percent of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber. However, our work has only begun. Until women have equal access to economic, political, and educational resources, we can never hope to meet the UN’s goals for sustainable development and human rights.
While about two thirds of countries in developing regions have achieved gender parity in primary education, girls still face significant obstacles entering primary and secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceana, and Western Asia. Women’s participation in all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life is a fundamental right and, ultimately, a requirement for the success of us all. This month (and every month), MALA recognizes the strength and struggle of the world’s women, and calls upon the global community to end gender-based violence and injustice, and to continue the fight for women’s agency and empowerment.
Author: Andrew McDonald, MALA Spring 2017 Intern