UNA Chichester District welcomed Olivia Darby of Wonder Foundation for a workshop investigating how the UN Sustainable Development Goals apply not just somewhere else but here in Chichester. In our own area of the south thousands of children live in poverty and a food bank has recently been opened. As we know, there is still inequity between men and women.
Explaining the national picture on poverty and gender inequality, Olivia provided local case studies so that participants could think about how our own action could help the UK to meet its SDG targets.
According to Inequality Briefing, the gap between rich and poor in the UK is the widest since the Second World War. At the moment, nine out of ten of the poorest regions in Northern Europe (measured by disposable income) are in the UK, despite the fact that the richest area in the whole of Northern Europe is also in the UK: inner London.
But it is not only the gap between the richest and the poorest that marks how unequal the UK is. Sadly, and despite progress made over the last century, the gap between women and men is still notable, with up to three million women and girls across the UK experiencing rape, domestic violence, stalking or other violence each year and thousands of women getting lower salaries for the same work.
These shocking facts reveal the urgent need for action in our communities to lead the way in changing our world within sustainable development. Policies and government initiatives can do no more than encourage change – it is only when people create change themselves that the situation can be improved. It is also the less obvious things that make understanding gender inequality important: for community projects to thrive and be sustainable, they need to take into consideration how those with child-care responsibilities, for example, can get involved, as this task falls mostly on women.
The conclusion of participants was that local action of any sort builds social capital and helps towards progress of many of the goals, not just the specific aims of the project. As a local UN Association branch we now want to build on this workshop to identify specific action to take locally within the sustainable development goals – if this is something that would interest you, please contact us.
This workshop was first delivered at the DFID Youth Summit in September 2015. Participants in Chichester said that it was 'terrific', 'well presented and well spoken', and that it had 'enabled us to look at the sustainable development goals in an entirely new and relevant way'.