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#WomenWednesday: Empower women for sustainable development

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit which took place last week in New York ensured the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), dubbed Agenda 2030.

By NYARADZO MASHAYAMOMBE

This means that over the next 15 years, all nations have a set target, ensuring an improvement in the standards and conditions of living for their people. The 17 SDGs are expected to be the answer to the challenges that the world has grappled with over the years. The challenges that have the world struggle with poverty, inequalities and the human divide that emanates from different angles, one of which is gender inequality.

The SDGs are a fresh breeze; they give us new hope and renewed strength to see the continuation of the agenda for development. However, the million dollar question is, how realistic are these goals and do we have the real political will required by the nations to ensure equality for all?

My intention of writing this column is to share ideas, opinions and exchange experiences for women and men, girls and boys. As the series of engaging men comes to a pause, (because we shall continue engaging around this topic), I do hope that I managed to reach out to men who have always been suspicious about the issues of gender, as well as to women who feel uncomfortable talking about gender issues as this is something society often frowns upon.

My desire is to see men and women, boys and girls, leaders and everyone taking a lead and feeling comfortable taking part in gender discussions and realising that they are part of the solution. I would like to see them proudly and confidently take their place at the table as far as the agenda to end inequalities is concerned and that gender-based violence is eradicated.

The boys and men are the ones who date girls in heterosexual relationships and often as statistics tell us, 74% of girls and young women who have ever experienced forced sexual intercourse or have been raped, report that this was done by either their boyfriends or people they knew. This shows a disturbing trend but a reality that boys and men really need to be reached out to, so that they are taught on changing their attitudes towards girls and young women, and that they may be taught about positive masculinities.

Positive masculinities are basically the realisation that women and girls are human beings too who deserve to consent to everything that takes place in their lives. The boys and men need to engage with women and girls with such respect for their choices to either refuse or accept sex depending on their age and their situations. It means that men respect women’s rights and opinions and will not force themselves on them.

Mature men need to realise that when they get married to a woman, they are accepting that they need someone to live their lives with, therefore there is need to respect them. Respect for their bodies, respect for their choices, their sexual reproductive health and their right to human dignity. There are many rights that are to be enjoyed by every human being and women are human beings too, who need to be respected in their decisions, including family planning.

I know that our society does not ordinarily empower its women to make such decisions for themselves and to be respected as such but, if we do change our ways, by ensuring that every person is respected and enjoys their rights, we will have peaceful families, less divorces, low prison enrolment and a prospering nation.

Someone once said that, the development of a nation is seen in the way it respects or treats its women. My passion is for sustainable development for all, especially making sure that girls and young women are part of the processes and that they have equal opportunities. It is my hope that as we begin to dwell on the SDGs, we find a place for everyone and establishe how each person may find their place in their individual development and that we become those who facilitate the rights of others.

Nyaradzo “Nyari” Mashayamombe is the founder and executive director of Tag a Life International Trust (TaLI), a girl child rights organisation. She is a development consultant, entrepreneur and singer. Email: nyarimash7@gmail.com

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