Photo: Members of a Village Savings and Loan Association in Guatemala @2017 Caroline Joe/CARE
New York /London – The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will remain a pipe dream unless world leaders accelerate efforts for the economic empowerment of women and address gender-based violence, CARE International experts say.
As global leaders meet at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to assess progress on the SDGs, studies by CARE International note that there has been a worrying increase in cases of exploitation and abuse of women in conflict and disaster zones.
Sofía Sprechmann, CARE International's Program Director said: "Where there are wars and natural disasters, we are seeing a roll back of sexual and reproductive rights. Our studies show an increase in cases of abuse of women and girls. This is putting millions of women and girls at risk of diseases while marginalizing them from positions of responsibility. These forms of exploitation and abuse also relate to the fundamental systemic roots that are at the heart of violence and other harmful practices against women.”
"Studies show that the scourge of child marriage still occurs around the world, and cuts across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. 45 per cent of girls under age 18 are forced to get married in South Asia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, that figure is 23 per cent; while in sub-Saharan Africa almost 40 % of young girls get married before they are adults. In 2019, such statistics paint a very grim picture," Sprechmann added.
In 2015, world leaders made a pledge to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains targets to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, end female genital mutilation and child marriage, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care, and uphold women’s reproductive rights.
Vanessa Jackson, CARE International's UN Representative said: “CARE’s experience shows that we can start to turn these figures around if girls get an education, if they can delay getting married and have a choice about when and how many children they will have.
“But these changes take entire communities, including men and boys, to be mobilized and to value women and girls’ contribution. These changes are possible and when they happen, the changes are truly transformational in those communities. We need to be learning from these successes and scaling them up at the global level,” she explained.
CARE is this week urging various stakeholders including governments, businesses, NGOs and the public to collaborate in contributing towards the collective goals.
According to Jackson, the aid agency's latest report, CARE’s Impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), demonstrates "how we are working with governments, the private sector, donors and civil society partners to contribute to SDGs, and we want to be held accountable for supporting progress toward these goals."
The report shows that since 2015, CARE and its partners have contributed to positive impacts for 45.8 million people - 70% of whom are women and girls. CARE has also made food and nutrition security and resilience to climate change a priority area for its work. Since 2014, CARE has helped nearly 5.9m people to increase their food and nutrition security, across 23 countries.
One successful project was established in Zimbabwe’s drought-hit Bikita district where villagers, CARE agricultural experts and other donors came together in a partnership to build a dam, which has helped the community to boost their production of food and ability to withstand the effects of climate change.
Mrs. Iliene Madyivona, the Chairperson of Shato gardening project in Bikita district said: "We started preparing to build our dam guided by the engineers from CARE in 2015. We knew we had been struggling to get enough rains for years and our growing families were not having enough to eat.
"Today we have a dam that can hold enough water reserves to irrigate our communal garden for most of the year. Here we get all sorts of fruits and crops such as bananas, beans, tomatoes and butternut squash. We have seen a definite improvement in our diets and the immune system of our children. As a result, we do not face hunger anymore and we think we are better able to cope with the effects of the changing climate," she explained.
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Notes to Editors