Hello again folks,
In my run up to Wednesday’s large post on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, I wanted to share another statement from a friend of mine that will be referenced in the piece.
This statement is from my good friend Kathleen O’Sullivan-Cook, a bisexual woman. She addressed each of my questions point by point, so I have edited it a bit for clarity. The Goal 5 Targets or my questions are in bold, and Kathleen’s responses are in italics;
As a woman, and a feminist. I fully support the premise of these initiatives. I have concerns about the idealistic natures of these goals given the current climate in America, but the importance of taking such a stance has its own influence. The fact that this is brought up at all is wonderful thing, yet conflicting with the fact that it needs to be brought up is despicable. All that has been said before, and will be said again I’m sure. To keep this brief, I’ll go through some highlights I have for each goal.
End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. (Goal 5 Target)
- Some of the points I have to make may seem redundant, but as someone living through the climate it seems necessary to repeat. The idealism of the UN’s goals also doesn’t cover specifics, nor for certain countries. So, most of my points will be spoken as women living in America. The goals need to include making sure all women are no longer excluded from key influential systems that help raise them to positions of power, such as higher education “fraternities” that give shoe ins to members. They also need to be included in influential public roles, such as more governorships, religious figureheads, and other authoritative roles. These exist, but are still limited, and in many ways highly conservative women currently in these roles. We need more open feminists in these roles.
- This of course leads to my next point that these goals need to include making certain all employers give equal pay, and close the wage gap. While strides have been made, the current atmosphere is still that women take on around 50% more of the household chores than men, struggle to be single parents, still take on more care for elderly or sick parents above the rest, they are still consistently paid less than men and given less compensation. There needs to further be goals in place to help alleviate this major imbalance.
- Although this may be covered under “Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health” there needs to be strategies for equal child care, equal access to childcare services for men as well to allow men to take on childcare burden. There needs to be the same paternity leave and services for men the same as women to care for children. This falls back to my previous comments regarding women taking on more than their fair share of the domestic home. However, in this point, it needs to be discussed that men are also often shut out of these “domestic” spheres, not only by other men, but women as well. The imbalance in this area can sometimes be self-inflicted, where psychologically women feel threatened if men move into this area as it takes away some of what little power they have. Where in reality if this is opened up more, then women can find more freedom to pursue higher careers. But also employers must make the true efforts here, to allow freedom and family care for both sexes.
- To further my previous point, there also needs to be strategies to combat microaggressions against women, and also against men who try to take on burdens that women carry. Only by alleviating microaggressions can we build up from the bottom to move away from some of the larger inherent discriminations and change the mentality that allows them. This includes, employers, public spaces, educational institutions, and in the home. Without addressing the social psychological triggers that continue the current culture of “women domesticity” we can not move toward a more balanced system.
Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation. (Goal 5 Target)
- This goal should seem obvious, and yet still continues, and in many places in America people seem to encourage it, or at least do very little to stop it. Even here in Michigan which has one of the highest trafficking rates in the country, little seems to be done to combat it. As for violence, particularly private “domestic” violence, there is despicably little done to punish those who perpetrate the violence. Even our own police forces find it difficult to sympathize with women and girls when violence occurs. And yet, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and hundreds of women die every day at the hands of their significant other. In America, many see this as a women’s place, and the right of the husband to do such things. Domestic violence also leads to child abuse and family poverty. On the other hand, men experience domestic violence as well. Child abuse from abused mothers has a terrifying correlation to adult male murderers. Violence against men is also underreported due our societal norms. Rape is also tied into all these factors, without going into that as well.
Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights… (Ties in with Goal 3 target “By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes”) (Goal 3 & 5 Targets)
- This goal is should be number one, as so many studies have shown that reproductive autonomy has so much bearing on so many other aspects of family life. Being able to control reproductive health will determine the nature of a woman’s relationship goals, family goals, education, wage earnings, and whether or not she has a career. This of course opens doors for more women to join in those public and authoritative roles as mentioned previously.
- Such reproductive autonomy also has bearing on domestic violence and discrimination, although this may depend on the location and culture of the area this occurs in. This also ties into what I was saying before about microaggressions and changing perspectives to build up from to the higher systems.
- There needs to be programs in place that incentivize fathers to first stay with their children, and make it easier for couples to work together when unexpected children arrive, and programs in place to help care for those children beyond what is in place now.
- Stigmatization is also an issue, so working with lower socioeconomic areas to teach and give bias training is necessary. This all comes after pushing into higher unwanted birth rate areas to teach about reproduction and prevention.
While the Sustainable Development Goals do include some language that could promote LGBT rights (Goal 10, Goal 16, Goal 5), the goals have been heavily criticized for lacking any language that refers specifically to sexual orientation, gender identity, or LGBT more broadly. What are your opinions on this? (My question)
- It is a bit concerning that this wasn’t addressed at all, but this issue, although everywhere, appears to be a forefront in America, where in other countries, is much less of an issue, or isn’t looked at, at all.
- Despite all that, it’s necessary to address these issues as they will grow further in all countries, and perhaps eventually in developing countries.
- There needs to be specific language in some form that protects people’s rights for relationships as they wish and to address their needs and wants to do with their bodies as they want.