SDG-3 aspires to ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all people at all ages. As for this goal, a short look at some of its accompanying targets is already sufficient to highlight its interconnectedness with women’s empowerment: Sub-goals of SDG-3 are the reduction of global maternal, premature and neonatal mortality ratios. The ending of preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 are center points here.
In general, women’s unequal social and economic status globally undercuts their abilities to protect their health and make empowered choices. Moreover, more than 225 million women worldwide still of today report an unmet need for contraceptive methods, leading to unwanted pregnancies and, as a consequence, unfortunately to many unsafe abortions, too. Additionally, their low socioeconomic status puts women at a higher risk for HIV/AIDS, especially when they end up as sex workers or are sexually violated. Last, but not least, many developing countries still foster traditional practices and cultural norms that endanger women’s and girls’ health and physical well-being, such as child marriage, female genital cutting, dietary restrictions and many others.
Considering all these facts, empowering women to ensure access to sexual, reproductive, and maternal health services is undoubtedly essential for the achievement of SDG-3. Systematic change of harmful social norms limiting women’s education, freedom and body-integrity is required. UNESCO surveys show that as female education levels rise, infant and child mortality rates fall, as well as maternal death rates and infectious diseases rates. And that ensuring women’s participation and leadership in decision making leads to improved family and community health.