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Why equality and sustainability go hand in hand

Gender Equality is goal number five in the UN global sustainable development goals and Reduced Inequalities is goal 10.  This is one of the reasons why gender equality is now included in KTH’s new sustainable development objectives.

Gender equality is about a fair division of power, influence and resources, and about the human right to live a life free from discrimination and violence. Research shows how political, financial and social equality contribute to all dimensions of sustainable development. Gender equality and equality affect other objectives concerning the climate, environment and economy (Report from Swedish Environmental Protection Agency 2019 in Swedish).

For example, women prioritise environment issues to a greater extent than men, both in the value they put on this, and in their actions.

The poorest members of society are hardest hit by climate change as they have far more limited financial assets. In the workplace, greater gender equality can help to increase quality and efficiency, which both contribute to economic sustainability. What are the advantages of KTH making the link between equality work and working towards sustainable development more visible?

One advantage will be in the way we can integrate knowledge about equality and diversity into our degree programmes by using sustainable development as the entry point, where intended learning outcomes are already in place. The connection between equality and sustainability can be demonstrated and provide supporting arguments why this is important for both societal and technological development.

Technological development can recreate inequality in the absence of knowledge, but armed with knowledge, we can challenge and change unequal conditions.

Are there any risks associated with equality being perceived as “only” one part of sustainable development? Several researchers have pointed to the risk of the equality objective possibly becoming overshadowed as an objective in its own right and only seeming to be a means to something else. That risk should not be underestimated, we have seen this happen before when equality is given a lower priority and subordinated to other issues.

But with this in mind, we are continuing to work to increase equality as an issue in its own right and as part of sustainable development.