SDG 1: What Does Poverty Mean to Women and Girls?

The first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 1) in the series of 17 goals is to End Poverty in all its forms everywhere. There are seven targets under this goal which vary in focus including reducing poverty by half among men, women and children as well as ensuring more resources are mobilized to aid in poverty reduction. The goal focuses on the need to create sound policies at a local, national and international level which are based on pro-poor and gender sensitive strategies. Does this sounds like Greek to you? I am a international development professional and reading this first goal sounds like I am reading a different language. Sure, ending poverty in all its forms sounds like an incredible goal. Perhaps, an incredibly lofty goal? What does ending poverty really mean? When thinking about the reality of how to work towards this goal there is one key question we need to answer:

What does poverty mean to women and girls?

Throughout my time working with women and girls this question has surfaced numerous times.  Poverty as it is defined in SDG1 focuses on economic poverty. We can not define poverty solely  as someone who lives on less than $1.25 a day. Material poverty, yes, but poverty in all its forms, no. Poverty is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “the lack of something.” To often, especially in the Western World, we define poverty only as the lack of money. If you were to ask women and girls around the world this question the scope of their answers would be far and wide. I have talked with many women and girls who would say poverty means:

  • A broken relationship with a friend or family member
  • No opportunities for education
  • Not being respected or valued by men and women in the family
  • Experiencing violence, abuse and exploitation
  • Being married before she was ready

What would it look like to meet this goal?

What would it actually look like to end poverty? When I think about this goal it seems rather than asking something attainable we are asking to live in a perfect world. Do we really believe this is possible? Addressing issues of poverty is something we can all work towards. In my opinion, working to reduce poverty among women and girls rather than working to eradicate it is a more feasible goal. The work currently being done to empower women and girls to lift themselves out of poverty is incredible. Instead of telling you how this goal will be met,  I want to show you what it looks like in reality. These are only a few of so many wonderful examples of those working to understand women and girls lives and empower them where they are.

Supporting Women and Girls in WASH

Empowering Adolescent Girls

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"Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to the various effects of climate change, including natural disasters, droughts, and the displacement that results from such events. Unfortunately, despite evidence pointing to women’s increased risk compared to men and emerging findings on the potential role of including girls in mitigating their own risk, little is being done to address girls’ specific needs and potential contributions to sustainability work." Read the full post on how adolescent girls are taking charge for a sustainable future by Sacha Green-Atchley and Katy Bullard on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls on girlsglobe.org #YouthVoices #sustainabledevelopment Photo: Tobin Jones / African Union Mission in Somalia

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Improving Maternal and Child Health

Investing in Young People


This is the first post in a series of posts highlighting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals focused on how they impact women and girls around the world. Continue to follow girlsglobe.org for more! Illustrations for the SDG campaign have been made for Girls’ Globe by artist Elina Tuomi. 

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Category: Development    Politics
Tagged with: #girlseducation    #SDGCampaign    2030NOW    adolescent girls    economic development    education    Sustainable Development Goals

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