An empowered woman is a great tool for economic and social change. In many parts of the world, women play key roles in running households and make major contributions to the economic development (1). In developing countries like Ghana, women are major contributors in agricultural production. They are involved in crop farming especially vegetables, animal rearing, and selling of farm produce. In other words, their efforts can be found along the food chain: early production activities to marketing and consumption. They are also involved in other economic activities like trading, palm oil and kernel making among others for the betterment of the family, community as well as the nation as a whole through their contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (2).
Inequalities that exist in society between men and women make it difficult for the latter to fully fulfil their potentials (3,1). This has resulted in women constituting majority of the world’s poorest population (4). Resources are difficult to come by for women in the pursuance of their goals (4,3). Society has also placed limitation on women by making them second to men. They contribute less in decision making. They are sidelined when it comes to providing solution to planning, policy making and implementation (4).
Gender equality and women’s right and empowerment are vital to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (5). Women must be seen as part of solutions to societal problems.
The entirety of the sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) will fully be realized if women are empowered (6): an empowered woman is engaged in economic activity, hence reduction in poverty (Goal 1); they are economically empowered to feed the family, hence zero hunger (Goal 2); they keep the environment clean and tidy up for good health and well-being (Goal 3); an educated woman will make sure her child is also educated (Goal 4, quality education); women should be empowered in all facets of their lives to ensure gender equality (Goal 5); they use greater percentage of domestic water; they fetch water and ensure proper sanitation practices that are human friendly (Goal 6, clean water and sanitation); women use greater percentage of domestic energy, therefore an empowered woman will know the effect of using charcoal and wood for cooking and heating (Goal 7); women form greater percentage of the world’s population and they must be engaged in decent work for economic growth (Goal 8). In terms of industrial development (Goal 9 – Innovation and Infrastructure), they should be given equal chance and opportunities with men. Disability status, ethnicity, or racial backgrounds should not be a limitation; (Goal 10, Reduced Inequalities). In addition to these, Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), Climate Action (Goal 13), Life below Water (Goal 14), Life on Land (Goal 15), Peace, Justice and Strong Institution (Goal 16) need, to an extent, the contribution of women for their achievement. In spite of their enormous contributions to the realization of the SDGs, women are marginalized and discriminated against. They should therefore be encouraged to unearth their potentials for economic development.
Women can rightly contribute their quota and partner well towards the achievement of these sustainable development goals only when they are well empowered; Partnership for the goal (Goal 17).
Women’s role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) cannot be underestimated. Therefore, legal and legislative changes should be made to ensure women are empowered and their rights are protected. Also, these legal and legislative rights should be made aware to women and this will empower and help them to contribute their quota toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Aaron Kwasi Nartey