Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


UNDP has made gender equality central to its work and we’ve seen remarkable progress in the past 20 years. There are more girls in school now compared to 15 years ago, and most regions have reached gender parity in primary education.

But although there are more women than ever in the labour market, there are still large inequalities in some regions, with women systematically denied the same work rights as men. Sexual violence and exploitation, the unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work, and discrimination in public office all remain huge barriers. Climate change and disasters continue to have a disproportionate effect on women and children, as do conflict and migration.


In perceiving how animal exploitation, abuse and violence undermines progress towards achieving gender equality, all one must do is consider how from our species’ earliest history a mindset of a “lessor capacity” was attributed to the female sex, and deeply embedded within gender roles in the shape of the “dominant” male provider and the “subservient” childbearing woman. From this perspective, women have long been a vulnerable target for males to exploit, similarly to how animals are perceived. In particular, the female of every animal species is exploited for their young to replenish the herd or flock and they have no control over their reproductive processes, being subjected to insemination, and being deprived of their young once born. Mankind has long dominated the animal world, much as patriarchal societies have suppressed the advancement of women’s rights, and women and their children have been seen, even in law, as the chattel of men. True equality, across gender or gender identity, race, color, religion, origin, and additionally all species, would attribute the same value towards all sentient beings. Many argue that speciesism does not compare to racism or sexism, yet a more robust moral framework would consider that it is wrong to purposefully cause harm, pain, suffering, and death to any other sentient being.

We now know that in studies of perpetrators of individual or mass human violence, that violence toward animals is highly predictive of violence towards humans. In animal exploiting industries, in particular slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities, as well as the food and catering industry to some degree, there has been found to have elevated levels of sexual harassment, and the surrounding areas suffer from elevated levels of violence, in particular domestic violence, perpetrated towards women and children.


Further Reading:

Goal 5 : Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (United Nations website)

“Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence” – National Sheriff’s Association –

“Cruel Intimacies and Risky Relationships: Accounting for Suffering in Industrial Livestock Production” – Why Interspecies Intimacy Matters, What makes it possible to overlook or dismiss human cruelty to the livestock that many of us rely on for food? Some scholars have linked consumers’ alienation from the food production process with the prevalence and severity of livestock welfare abuses and with other social and environmental problems. By Natilie Purcell
Society & Animals 19 (2011) 59-81 –

“Hunting Girls: Patriarchal Fantasy or Femine Progress” – Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900-present), Spring 2013, Volume 12, Issue 1 –

“A Feminist Analysis of Human and Animal Oppression: Intersectionality Among Species” – Kelsey Brown, Western Washington University –

“Slaughterhouses_and_Increased_Crime_Rates” – Amy J. Fitzgerald, University of Windsor, Linda Kalof Thomas Dietz, Michigan State University –