How Countries Can Adopt the SDGs to the Local Context

It is the start of the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, the second-largest convening at the United Nations every year following the UN General Assembly. During this two-week event, representatives of Member States gather at the UN to discuss and evaluate the progress made on gender equality. I am privileged enough to be able to attend CSW on behalf of my global advocacy organization, where we fight for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women.

In my first event, I attended a session hosted by the Government of Jordan, Government of Tunisia, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, where each speaker shared some insight to what they are doing to advance gender equality in their country or commission.

Working with civil society organizations (CSOs).

Dr. Salma Nims, Secretary General at Jordanian National Commission for Women emphasized the need to establish clear infrastructure to include gender and gender equality in country national plans; Jordan’s successful alliances with CSOs has led to pressure on the government to act and strengthen frameworks for accountabilities and allocating budgets for addressing gender issues.

Removing barriers for women in the workplace and in political office.

Dr. Neziha Labidi, Minister of Women, Family, Children and Seniors of Tunisia emphasized the key role governments play in changing harmful gender norms that set girls and women behind in society. Tunisia has introduced legislation criminalizing violence against women, but in addition to the more commonly known acts of violence, political violence is included, as it is a potential deterrent for women who wish to seek office. Additionally, they have a flexible parental leave policy, where expectant mothers may go on leave one month before they are due (also known as pre-leave!), and their parental leave may be transferred to their partner in the event that they wish to return to work.

Country and regional level coordination to achieve the SDGs.

In her work, Mehrinaz El-Awady, Director of ESCWA Centre for Women works with countries in the Arab region to ensure that they are on the right track to achieving the SDGs. The Arab Sustainable Development Report is a helpful tool that flags when gender is not cross-cutting across all SDGs in a country.

It is great to attend CSW and hear the efforts taken from countries as far as those in the Middle East. It goes to show that there is global consensus that advocating for girls and women is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.

To keep up with what’s happening at CSW, follow the hashtag #CSW63 on Twitter.

One Woman’s Efforts to Advance Gender Equality in Sudan

Across the globe girls and women still encounter challenges due to gender roles that were set from generations past. The evidence is there: achieving gender equality is beneficial for the economy, can decrease poverty and gender-based violence, and more.

11866355_10156177468355001_8730725016357648829_n - Mai Khidir

Mai Khidir participated in the Milead Fellowship run by the Moremi Initiative, and was tasked with implementing a project that could transform her community in Khartoum, Sudan. Mai felt strongly that she needed to establish a project that involved building the confidence, personal, and professional skills of young Sudanese women so that they have the courage to pursue their goals. With this in mind, she founded Al Sudaniya Mentoring (ASM) to address these challenges and provide an opportunity for young women to develop key skills and knowledge to help them flourish, thrive, and become dynamic agents of change.

The mission:

Al Sudaniya Mentoring provides tailored, holistic, one-on-one mentoring to young Sudanese women by Sudanese women across the globe with the goals of providing women with the tools and resources to become engaging leaders and make a difference in their communities in Sudan, and to build a global network of Sudanese women for knowledge and skills sharing.

Mai established ASM for three main reasons:

  • To connect women from across the globe with women in Sudan in order to provide them with inspiring, dynamic role models that can effectively support and guide women to challenge the status quo and drive forward in their personal and professional lives to make a positive impact to their own lives and to Sudan

  • To address the lack of professional skills development in Sudanese institutions

  • To allow Sudanese women to take ownership of newly gained skills within their communities and apply it into their personal and professional lives through increased opportunities and networks

Since founding her organization in 2014, Mai and her team at ASM have empowered 81 mentees between the ages of 17-22; conducted ten outreach projects with the Sudanese community on the topics of harassment, mental health, women’s rights, and technology; and saw ten mentees move on and get selected to intern at leading international organizations.

ASM’s Vision:

Al Sudaniya Mentoring envisions a future where Sudanese women across Sudan overcome the challenges they face to unlock their potential in their personal and professional lives to achieve their goals and make a positive impact in Sudan.

Picture for Blog - Mai Khidir
Mai and ASM mentees celebrating the 5th year of the program

In 2019, Mai hopes to expand ASM to states outside of Khartoum to further the reach to women from marginalized communities and eventually mentor an additional 50 mentees. With this organizational growth, she also aims to create additional programs within ASM to focus on entrepreneurship, leadership, and professional development to fulfill the organization’s mission.

Stay informed on Mai‘s and Al Sudaniya Mentoring‘s journey.

Living Like a Local: Women vs. Men

men-vs-women-leadersLiving in Mexico has opened my eyes to how different their culture is compared to in America. Our generation has considerably changed the norms surrounding the roles of women and men in the home. In the 20th century, it was commonly accepted that wife played the role of housemaker/housewife to tend to things at home such as cleaning, or cooking, or taking care of the children, while the husband was responsible for working and bringing home the “bread” to the family. Today, more and more women have higher aspirations to succeed and advance in their careers before they settle down. More women are embracing the fact that the era when women “belonged” in the house has passed, and we can aim for CEO and executive positions, The gender pay gap is slowly decreasing, and women are always wanted in the STEM field, often getting paid more than their male counterparts.

As I’m getting to know the community here in Mexico, I realize that they are still very traditional about the male and female roles in the household. My host father explicitly stated that in Mexico, the women take care of the cooking and the cleaning. I’ve witnessed it at home when the males who eat meals would leave their plates on the tables or at the sink for someone else to clean. I can’t tell you how much that makes my eye twitch when I’m very pro gender-equal responsibilities in the house loll. I always try to wash my own dishes while I’m here to lessen the load on whoever is responsible for washing the massive mountain of dishes D: It seems to be the norm at every household I’ve visited, where the daughter or the wife is responsible for preparing the meals, bringing food over to the males first to eat, and then cleaning up afterward. I’m doing my best to keep that open mind since not every culture is what I’ve grown up to know. It’d be interesting to see what changes in let’s say 10-20 years’ time!