Mr. Sammer Ahmad: Director Audit Railways, Lahore.
Certifications: SAP-FI, CISA, CISM, CIA Part-1
Educational Qualifications: B.Sc. Chemical Engineering from University of Engineering & Technology (UET) Lahore and Master in Public Policy from National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS) Tokyo, Japan.
United Nations (UN) introduced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 with the aim of achieving them till 2030. These 17 SDGs explain people, prosperity, peace, planet and partnerships in general. These goals comprise of 169 targets and 247 indicators too for monitoring the progress of targets. SDGs framework is overall a development agenda of UN based on three main pillars and those are: inclusivity, equity and sustainability. It is pertinent to mention here that prior to the introduction of SDGs in 2015, there were MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and MDGs were introduced in year 2000 and ended in 2015. MDGs were 8 in total with 21 targets and 60 indicators while SDGs are 17 in total with 169 targets and 247 indicators. Moreover, MDGs were focused on quantitative aspects while SDGs focusses on qualitative aspects of development. Gender equality is ranked at 5th among 17 SDGs.
For achieving Gender Equality, UN introduced 9 targets and 14 indicators. These targets and their indicators are briefly described here.
- 1. End discrimination against women and girls. Whereas, the indicator is whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex.
- 2. End all violence against and exploitation of women and girls. Whereas, the indicator is proportion of women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner or other than intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by form of violence and by age.
- 3. Eliminate forced marriages and genital mutilation. While the indictor is the proportion of women aged 20–24 years who were married or in a union after age 15 and before age 18. Moreover, female genital mutilation aged 15-49 years is also the indicator.
- 4. Value unpaid care and promote shared domestic responsibilities. While the indicator is proportion of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location.
- 5. Ensure full participation of women in leadership and decision-making. While the indicator is the proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments (b) local governments and in managerial positions.
- 6. Universal access to reproductive rights and health. While the indicator is the proportion of women aged 15–49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care.
- 7. Equal rights to economic resources, property ownership and financial services. While the indicator is (a) proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure.
- 8. Promote empowerment of women through technology. While the indicator is the proportion of individuals who own a mobile telephone, by sex.
- 9. Adopt and strengthen policies and enforceable legislation for gender equality. While the indicator is proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
All 17 SDGs are interlinked including SDG-5 and there are many stakeholders and those are: parliamentarians, federal ministries, provincial and district governments, statistical organizations, private sector, international development partners, think tanks, academia, civil society and media. Moreover, there are various issues and those are: ambitious agenda, who will implement SDGs, costing, financing, data and evidence-based decision making.
There is a to do list issued by UN which helps achieving gender equality and the list is:
- 1. Women earn 10 to 30 percent less than men for the same work. Pay inequality persists everywhere. Voice your support for equal pay for equal work.
- 2. Find a Goal 5 charity you want to support. Any donation, big or small, can make a difference!
- 3. Be aware of gender stereotypes. Recognize them, avoid them and educate others about them.
- 4. Stand up against harassment. Whenever you see or become aware of harassment, whether in the workplace, streets, home or the online space, raise your voice against it.
- 5. Find female mentors/leaders. Ensure that some of your role models or mentors are women. There’s a lot you can learn from women in positions of authority.
- 6. Share the workload at home. Sharing domestic responsibilities ensures the work burden doesn’t fall only on one person and instills the value of gender equality and essential life skills in children.
- 7. Stay informed. Follow your local news and stay in touch with the Global Goals online or on social media.
Capacity of humanity to prosper depends upon women and this fact seems understandable because females (girls and women) encompass half of the world population. However, many discrepancies exist for women in many areas around the globe in general and in third world countries in particular e.g., civil rights, earning potential and economic justice etc. and these differences are even greater among the people who recognize them as gender-diverse.
Life can be made better for all by improving gender equality on earth. Because there are about 4 billion women and these are seen in every sphere of life but many of them are still trying to seek basic human rights. Women population suffers from social and political discriminations and in spite of their economic potential for innovation, they continue to earn about 20 percent less than men.
Lack of access to healthcare facilities, education and equal pay does not only disturb individual women but it suffocates the success of society itself. In general, gender inequality and poverty have a directly proportional relationship and in countries where girls get equal education to boys shows consistent rates of economic growth shows inverse relationship of cultural and domestic violence.
Moreover, studies also show when women participate in local and regional economies, the health and nutrition of their family members increases. It is estimated that if women employment rates match with that of men, it would increase world GDP to the extent of trillions of dollars. In brief, gender equality shows a healthier, safer and wealthier society for all.Way forward to achieve gender equality
There are actions that can narrow the gender gap and support the success of girls and women around the globe.
Help women to succeed: According to reports of USAID and Kiva more than billions of women of the world are not included in the financial systems. It is pertinent to mention here is that financial inclusion can increase women’s incomes, which can increase the household spending on quality food and quality education and ultimately increase the quality of life.
Provision of loans: Providing loans to women can increase the opportunities for them to start businesses and increase in their independence and agency. By this practice, women gain power to enhance the standards of their lives and at the same time creating benefits that resonate all over communities.
Focus on performance: When it comes to encouraging gender equality in the organizations, the best way to narrow the gap is to give rewards to those who produce results, and achieve organizational goals—irrespective of any apparent notions of their abilities.
Talk about gender equality with family members including children: In many developed societies, it can be appealing to take freedom of women for granted but there is still a huge gap to cross in order to realize gender equality around the globe. Discuss with the family members regarding underrepresentation of women in government and business sectors and discuss about the positive consequences of narrowing the gender gap.
Boost financial inclusion for women: Over a billion women, as mentioned earlier, are excluded from financial exclusion i.e., they do not have access to loan (credit) for boosting their financial independence. More than 70 percent of women who owned small and medium size businesses have inadequate access to credit. More often than not, they do not access to such services due to social hinderances and systematic poverty.
Encourage women-owned businesses: It is of much importance where we spend money. Purchasing goods and services from the women-owned enterprises actually support them on their families and it also enhances local economies and neighboring communities. Studies have shown that women-owned enterprises are more likely to create jobs in food services, health care services and other social sector industries than men-owned enterprises. Spending money for acquiring goods and services from the women-owned small businesses not only reduces the gender inequality but also boost local community because it is estimated that every dollar spent in small business, 67 cents remain in the local money circulation.
Promote gender equality at home: Promote fair division of work in household matters. Everybody can contribute in cleaning, childcare, cooking and other unpaid labor. This will not only break the stereotype thinking about the categories of gender related works but also make the household caring i.e., many hands can make the wok easy for all.
Raise your voice against gender-based violence: It is estimated that every one in three women have suffered physical and emotional exploitation in their life mostly at the hands of their spouse or relative. Poor women are more prone to violence against women. However, reporting of act of violence due to lack of protection and confidence on current system affects women of all levels of society.
Here are some key ways to promote gender equality in sports and level the playing field:
Be a fan of women sports: Support women players by watching on television or in person and by following their social media accounts. This goes for school level, college level, national and international level enthusiasm and this will encourage girls to stick with it.
Be a sports woman: Not every girl and women have an ability to pursue for professional sports. However, there are ample local and low-level opportunities available for ladies of all ages. Presence of women matter a lot even if it is in workplace team or serve as coach in kindergarten football team.
Demand better policy: At professional level gender equality is getting attention but there is a big room for improvement in gender equality in educational institutions and sports organizations. When it comes to participation opportunities, funding, financial aid, girls and women deserve equal attention.
Defend whistle blowers: Providing the information with examples of incidents of gender inequality, sexual harassment, discrimination is a brave act and sometimes it serves as the only act to move the needle towards the balancing point. Anonymous whistleblowers program should be established with the protection of privacy.
Use suitable language: While speaking about women who is in playground, attention should be given on the performance and tactfulness of women while playing instead of talking about the uniform she is wearing. Attaining gender equality in sports depends upon giving same respect and treatment to women players from the fans, media, coaches, and from other players.Role of auditors in promoting gender equality in organizations
Since auditor (especially internal auditors) in big organizations provide various types of assurance and consulting services to improve the value of organizations. One of the assurance services is compliance assurance. One purpose of such assurance service is to check whether the organization is following the guidelines issued by the government regulators as well as internal policies and procedures. One of the important regulations is the quota of women in employment at various levels. Auditor can identify any such gap and that can be filled by the management of organization and compliance can be monitored in follow up audit. Moreover, auditor may perform consulting services on the request of the organization regarding imparting training on how to achieve the gender equality as per requirement of internal policies and as per directions of government regulators.
Moreover, in big organizations, there is usually a compliance officer who observe the compliance related issues of the originations and one duty of that officer is to coordinate among various departments of organization. So, in addition to internal audit department, compliance officer should also be vigilant for the compliance of gender equality related internal policies and procedures and external regulations.Bibliography
SDGs issued by United Nations and available at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/ (accessed on 5th May, 2023)
Five ways to build gender equality and sustainability accessed on 5th May, 2023 at https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/feature-story/2022/02/five-ways-to-build-gender-equality-and-sustainability
27 actionable ways to improve gender equality accessed on 5th May, 2023 at https://www.kiva.org/blog/27-actionable-ways-to-improve-gender-equality
Assurance and Consulting Services of the Institute of Internal Auditors.