Strategic communication and gender equality: Driving Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 (SDG 5)


From awareness to action: Communication as a bridge to gender equality and sustainable development

Gender equality is more than an ideal; it’s a vital catalyst for sustainable development, peace, and justice. However, achieving this goal requires strategic and effective communication. In this article, we’ll explore how communication serves as a valuable resource for driving change and promoting gender equity on a global scale.

Communication as an engine for change

Communication is not merely about transmitting information. It’s a potent channel for shifting mindsets, breaking stereotypes, and fostering gender equality. Through effective communication, we can influence public perception, challenge traditional norms, and build a more equitable world.

Strategies for effective communication in promoting gender equality

Inclusive and strategic communication has the power to catalyse significant societal changes. When addressing critical issues like gender equality, communication becomes an essential tool for driving action and change. Below, we delve into how effective communication can support various aspects of gender equality:

  • Laws and policies: Advocacy for laws and policies that support gender equality is crucial. Communication can be a powerful tool for raising awareness and promoting policies that encourage equality.
  • Decision-making participation: Encouraging equitable representation of women at all levels is vital. Communication can be an effective tactic for promoting active participation of women in decision-making.
  • Economic empowerment: Promoting equal employment opportunities and supporting female empowerment is essential. Through communication, we can raise awareness about the importance of economic empowerment in fostering gender equality.
  • Awareness-raising: Changing attitudes and behaviours is crucial. Through communication campaigns and projects, we can shift perceptions and advocate for gender equality.

Gender equality indicators and their impact on communication

To fully grasp how communication can influence the perception and promotion of gender equality, it’s essential to familiarise oneself with indicators that measure progress in this area. These indicators not only reflect the current state of gender equality in society but also provide a roadmap for areas requiring attention and change. Here are some key indicators, with links to articles where I’ve contributed to discussions on each topic:

  • Leadership roles: Gender representation in leadership and decision-making roles, such as legislators or senior executives, is crucial. A gender balance in these roles indicates a society that values and promotes equality.
  • Civil liberties: Women’s ability to exercise freedoms like dress choice and unrestricted movement is a critical indicator of an inclusive society.
  • Social indicators: These include property rights and women’s access to financial institutions or land. These indicators reflect women’s socioeconomic standing in society.
  • Crime indicators: The reduction or elimination of gender-based violence, including domestic and sexual violence, is a critical indicator of progress towards an equitable society.
  • Health and education indicators: These could include life expectancy and educational levels for both women and disadvantaged groups. A society that promotes health and education for all, regardless of gender, is a society progressing towards equality.
  • Economic indicators: Equality in the gender pay gap and female participation in the workforce are key indicators of an inclusive economy.

These indicators, backed by effective communication, can help raise awareness and promote gender equality across all sectors of society.


Key elements of inclusive communication

  • Feminist communication: Goes beyond merely conveying messages. It challenges entrenched power structures and aims to create profound social impact. Its essence lies in approaching issues from an angle that prioritises equality and questions established norms.
  • The sex/gender system: This distinction is vital. While “sex” refers to biological characteristics, “gender” addresses roles, behaviours, and social attributes. Understanding this difference is crucial for accurate and sensitive communication.
  • Stereotypes and gender roles: Gender stereotypes have historically limited people’s opportunities and perceptions. It’s imperative to question and dismantle these moulds to present a broader and more diverse view of humanity. A glaring example is the lack of female presence on expert panels and public figures, especially at high-profile conferences and events. This absence perpetuates the notion that leadership and expertise roles are predominantly male, which is a barrier to achieving true gender equality.
  • Gender violence: It’s not just about physical assaults. Symbolic violence, manifested through words and attitudes, is also harmful. Addressing this issue with the seriousness and empathy it deserves is crucial.
  • Inclusive language: Words have power. Opting for respectful and inclusive language is not just considerate but also reinforces the idea of a society where everyone has a place.

Global actors and resources

Organisations like UN Women and the EU’s GAP III initiative are leading the way in promoting gender equality globally. These actors, coupled with effective communication, can overcome barriers and make gender equality a reality.

For instance, UN Women has launched multiple campaigns and programmes to empower women and girls worldwide. One of their most notable initiatives is “HeForShe”, a solidarity campaign aiming to engage men and boys as advocates and change agents in the fight for gender equality. Additionally, UN Women has collaborated with governments and local organisations to implement economic empowerment programmes, promote female leadership, and prevent gender violence.

On the other hand, the EU’s GAP III initiative focuses on three main pillars: ensuring equal rights, access, and opportunities for women and girls in all areas of life; promoting the economic, social, and political empowerment of girls and women; and combating gender violence. As part of this initiative, the EU has funded projects in developing countries to promote girls’ education, improve access to reproductive health services, and strengthen women’s capacities to participate in decision-making processes.

These actions and programmes demonstrate the commitment and determination of these global actors in the fight for a more equitable world.


Gender equality is more than a goal; it’s a fundamental human right. Through strategic and inclusive communication, we can make a significant contribution to the promotion of gender equality and sustainable development. Communication serves as a key channel for influencing public perception, challenging traditional norms, and building a more equitable world.

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