Why is gender equality important

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Gender equality is a universal human right. Even so, millions of women around the world face discrimination in access to education, health care and in their everyday lives. They are still all too often the victims of human trafficking and physical or sexual violence. In a number of countries, many women still die from poor health care during or after having a child. Women are more often affected by poverty than men. According to UN Women, only one percent of women own land. The proportion of women in low-wage sectors is significantly higher than that of men.

The latest interim balance sheet by the United Nations and the federal government also shows the urgency and importance of gender equality. For example, 19 percent of all women and girls worldwide experienced physical violence from their partner in the past year. Yet 49 countries do not even have laws that criminalize and prosecute this form of violence.

Another example that shows the urgent need for action: 15 million girls of primary school age will never have the chance to learn to read or write. That is 50 percent more than for boys of the same age. Although there are more and more legal regulations against discrimination, they are often not implemented. Overcoming traditional gender roles is also a lengthy process.

The has existed since 1911 "International Women's Day", which draws global attention to women's rights and gender equality. In Germany, in January 1919, women could vote and be elected for the first time in history. International Women's Day is celebrated worldwide on March 8th and used for campaigns to raise awareness of the situation of women worldwide.

Sustainability Goal 5 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda postulates gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Germany is committed to this globally and in its own country.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

With the 2030 Agenda, a comprehensive goal of gender equality was agreed for the first time in New York in 2015 as one of 17 global goals for sustainable development by the international community. At the same time, gender equality is anchored in the 2030 Agenda as a cross-cutting issue. Gender-specific sub-goals can be found in many other SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals - Establishing gender equality

- equality between women and men in society,
- elimination of all forms of,
- Ending all forms of and preventing violence against women and girls,
- women in management positions in business, politics and public life,
- Recognize, appreciate and distribute unpaid care and housework more fairly,
- Equal access to health services, including those for maintaining sexual and reproductive health,
- Eliminate all harmful practices such as child marriage, forced marriage and genital mutilation as well
- Equal access for women and men to economic resources, technology and finance.

Gender equality and the self-determination of all women and girls is a cross-sectional task for sustainable development. It can also be found in 11 other goals, for example in the demands for equal educational opportunities in SDGs 4 and equal pay for men and women in SDGs 8.

What are the challenges in Germany? The key is a better work-life balance or care for women and men. Because it is a prerequisite for the equal participation of women in employment and career.

The proportion of women in management positions in business, politics and science is still too low. Women are also underrepresented in the so-called MINT professions, i.e. in mathematical, IT, scientific and technical professions. And this even though young girls achieve results that are equivalent to boys in school in the MINT subjects. It is also necessary to upgrade the educational, social and caring professions, which traditionally are mainly carried out by women.

Violence against women in all its forms is still widespread in Germany. The German government has undertaken to comprehensively combat violence against women and girls, including by ratifying the "Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence" (Istanbul Convention of 2011). This is implemented through a variety of measures, including a free, barrier-free helpline for violence against women and domestic violence that is available in 18 languages.

Implementation through the German sustainability strategy

The German Sustainability Strategy is the German contribution to the implementation of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda. It sets the framework for sustainable action by politics and society. At its heart is a sustainability management system, which specifies goals with a specific time frame for fulfillment and indicators for continuous monitoring.

Which goals and indicators of the sustainability strategy show the status of equal treatment of girls and women?

- The aim is to reduce the difference in average gross hourly earnings to a maximum of 10 percent by 2030.
- The proportion of women on the supervisory boards of listed companies that are fully co-determined is to increase to 30 percent in Germany by 2030.
- Increase in the number of girls and women who are professionally qualified through German development aid to 473,000 in 2030, a third more than in 2015.

The indicator report of the Federal Statistical Office, which is to be submitted every two years, shows how the strategy indicators have developed. The annual monitoring report on the federal administration's program of sustainability measures creates the necessary transparency about what the federal government is doing in its own area to implement sustainability.

The results are both an obligation and an encouragement. The leveling of salaries is unsatisfactory. In 2016, women earned an average of 21 percent less than men (so-called "unadjusted gender pay gap"). There has been hardly any change here in the past 20 years. The development in the filling of supervisory board positions in companies that are subject to the statutory quota regulation is positive. By the end of 2017 there was a significant increase to 30.1 percent (based on the 105 listed and fully co-determined companies).

What is the federal government doing?

Equal treatment for women and men is at the center of government action. Women and men must have the same opportunities throughout life - personally, professionally and in the family. With the National Equal Opportunities Strategy "Strong for the Future" adopted in summer 2020, the Federal Government is specifying its goals and will implement equality between women and men in legislation and in its funding programs. The equality strategy also formulates nine goals for equality and specifies the measures with which the federal government intends to achieve these goals.

Eliminate differences in earnings
An important building block for closing the wage gap is the law to promote pay transparency between women and men. Since January 2018, employees in companies with more than 200 employees can for the first time assert an individual right to information and request information about the pay structures in their company. The contact person for questions about pay transparency is usually the local works council.

Women in leadership positions
With the law for equal participation of women and men in management positions in the private and public sectors, politics and business are creating the prerequisites for initiating the necessary cultural change.

Since January 2016, a minimum gender quota of 30 percent has been in place for new supervisory board positions to be filled in more than 100 listed companies with equal co-determination, which is having a positive effect. Around 3,500 companies that are listed or co-determined are obliged to set their own targets to increase the proportion of women on supervisory boards, executive boards and top management levels. Companies with more than 500 employees subject to a management report are required for the first time to publish a report on equality and equal pay. This process is accompanied by regional alliances for equal opportunities in order to promote the career development of women at the regional level.

The Federal Equal Opportunities Act has the task of promoting equality between women and men in federal agencies, especially in management positions. Disadvantages based on gender should be prevented.

Combine family and work
With the parental allowance and the new parental allowance plus, the deductibility of childcare costs, the nationwide expansion of childcare and an expanded all-day school offer, the federal government has set the course for a better work-life balance. It also enables more partnership in upbringing. The parental allowance, which came into force more than ten years ago, addresses mothers and fathers individually and has meanwhile changed social norms and models: the equal division of tasks in family and work between women and men has demonstrably gained acceptance. With the action program "Perspective return to work", the entry and promotion chances of women after a family-related career break are improved.

Qualification without gender stereotypes
Fair opportunities for girls and young women also mean equal opportunities in traditional subjects and so-called "male professions". The Federal Government therefore supports girls and women in choosing a career. The national MINT pact was concluded together with partners from science and industry. Under the motto "Come on, do MINT", young women should be shown what today's MINT professional world looks like and what opportunities are opening up for women.

Tip: Take part in the annual Girls' Day. It will take place again on April 26, 2018! Or do a trial internship in a MINT job.

It is necessary to look at the entire spectrum of the professional world. That is why, in addition to Girls 'Day, there has also been Boys' Day since 2011, where boys can explore professions that they usually only rarely consider when choosing a career.

Job and study orientation free of stereotypes
The Klischeefrei initiative supports all those involved in the career choice process who accompany girls and boys on their way to a career that suits their strengths - free of gender clichés. The initiative relies on close cooperation with partners from education, politics, business and research.

In science and research, women and men are represented in approximately equal parts on average up to and including their doctorate. Then this changes significantly. If you look at the distribution of female and male professors at German universities, only just under 23 percent of professors are female. The federal and state programs for women professors make an important contribution to achieving equal opportunities at universities. So far, more than 500 female professors have been appointed in this way.

Violence against women
Since 2013 there has been a nationwide helpline for "violence against women". Violence against women has many faces. Whether violence in marriage and partnership, sexual assault and rape as well as stalking, human trafficking and violence in the context of prostitution or genital mutilation - qualified counselors are on hand to help women seeking help with all forms of violence.

Tip: Are you a victim of violence? Help hotline "Violence against women" On 08000 116 016 and on the website www.hilfetelefon.de you can get competent advice in 18 languages ​​around the clock, even on weekends and public holidays - 365 days a year. Your call to the help line is free of charge. Advice can even be used without credit on the mobile phone.

Help for pregnant women
In May 2014, the law to expand assistance for pregnant women and regulate confidential births came into force. The aim is to enable pregnant women in special conflict situations to receive qualified advice as well as medical care and care during pregnancy and childbirth, even if they want to remain anonymous.

Tip: Help hotline "Pregnant women in need anonymously and safely". The free number 0800 40 40 020 gives you competent help around the clock, even on weekends and public holidays - 365 days a year. Your call to the help line is free of charge. Advice can even be used without credit on the mobile phone. The federal foundation "Mother and Child - Protection of Unborn Life" also supports pregnant women in emergencies.

Germany is involved globally
The Federal Government is also committed to gender equality internationally and is working with various partners to achieve this. Milestones in the global effort to achieve equality were the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Women (CEDAW, in force since 1981 and ratified by Germany in 1985) and the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Their implementation is the subject of the annual United Nations Women's Rights Commission.

The European Union obliges all its member states through its legislation and other measures to eliminate discrimination based on sex. A prominent example of the implementation of EU directives in this area in Germany is the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), which also prohibits discrimination based on gender. The Council of Europe also decides on conventions, programs and recommendations to ensure gender equality and equality, most recently the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), which came into force in Germany on February 1, 2018.

Development policy is based on equality

Equal rights, equal duties, equal opportunities and equal power for women and men is also a guiding principle of German development policy. The Federal Government relies on self-determination, for example through better education and qualifications for girls and women. In 2015, 354,841 girls and women received vocational training through development cooperation. This proportion is expected to increase significantly by 2030. Development projects for men aim to change traditional roles.

In addition, the Federal Government works worldwide to improve the political participation of women, curb violence against women and girls and strengthen the important role women play in the field of peace and security. In the water, rural development, health, energy and climate sectors, too, German development cooperation projects show that gender equality is possible and leads to better results. Through the political dialogue but also through concrete development projects, traditional gender roles are to be broken and men and boys are to be won over as "change agents" for more gender equality.