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  • Author or Editor: Jenny Rivett x
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The targets outlined by Sustainable Development Goal 5 – to achieve social, economic and political gender equality, eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights – underscore the persistence of gender-based discrimination in almost all public and private spheres, and, despite progress, the scale of the work still needed to realize an equal and equitable society (United Nations, 2015). As global goals, the SDG targets and indicators inevitably lack nuance in terms of implementation, leaving governments and stakeholders space to adapt and implement according to context. However, the notion of gender equality in particular can remain superficial when measured according to female–male ratios and quotas, legal frameworks and quantitative data – making the SDG 5 indicators relatively limited in terms of reflecting the lived experience of individuals in society.

The negative outcomes of gender inequality which SGD 5 seeks to redress, and which disproportionately affect women and girls, are increasingly well-documented and understood. However, while there is a growing emphasis in the international development community on gender transformative interventions, understandings of the often deep-seated social norms at the core of persistent gender inequalities, and importantly how norms can change, remains limited, hindering progress on the SDG 5 objectives.

Gendered social norms are reproduced during the process of gender socialization which begins from birth as an individual interacts with various social- and structural-level concepts of gender. These are the norms which hold in place the socially constructed set of ‘acceptable’ behaviours for males and females, transgression of which can bring social – and sometimes violent – consequences.

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