By the Co-Chairs of the OECD Development Communication Network (DevCom): Nanette Braun, Chief, Communications Campaigns Service, UN Department of Global Communications, Amalia Navarro, Director of Communications, Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and Mathilde Schneider, Director of Communications, French Development Agency (AFD)
This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.
Those of us who work in sustainable development need no convincing: to overcome global challenges, we need global collaboration and solidarity. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this need clearer than ever. We face vastly different situations, but we are all connected and all responsible for our common future. We can rebuild from this crisis if all of us – all countries and all citizens – play our part.
By Felix Zimmermann, Co-ordinator, Development Communication Network (DevCom), OECD Development Centre
With individual actions, we can all help the world achieve gender equality. That is the message behind #GenerationEquality, the theme for International Women’s Day on Sunday, 8 March. While #GenerationEquality is easily tweeted, the 2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) tells us that, around the world, discrimination remains deeply entrenched. Many countries have enacted laws to protect women’s rights. But laws can be easier to change than attitudes and behaviours. Shockingly, SIGI tells us that almost 1 in 3 women around the world still believe that spousal violence is sometimes justified. Almost 1 in 2 people think that men make better political leaders than women.
To eradicate harmful practices and achieve gender equality, we need to change attitudes and shift gender norms. The evidence confirms that those of us communicating for development have crucial roles to play. We can expose people to new ideas, encouraging them to reflect on their discriminatory attitudes or emulate positive role models. We can raise awareness about new laws and the benefits of gender equality, such as happiness or economic growth. UK-based think tank ODI shows how media initiatives like the interactive SSMK radio show helped transform the lives of adolescent girls in Nepal.
We cannot hope to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build the more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous — the better — world they envision without engaging people everywhere and inspiring them to take concrete action. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states that it is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But, so far “the people” do not seem to be aware of it.
In Canada, nearly 60% of people surveyed in 2017 knew nothing about the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. Worse still: 73% of the 19% of Canadians who said they were aware of the SDGs were unable to say anything at all about them. 1
Globally things are not much better: only 28-45% of people have heard of the SDGs, but that does not mean that they understand anything about them. Only about 1% of people in 24 countries say they know the SDGs “very well.” 2
I don’t really know my neighbour. What I do know is that she can get pretty grumpy when my kids are too noisy. I also know that she uses the recycle bins. But what does she think about sustainable development? I wouldn’t have a clue. That needs to change.
An urgent task: mobilising citizens into action for the SDGs
To have any hope of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, we need all citizens to change their behaviours, no matter where in the world they live. SDG priorities may differ from country to country, but we need citizens in all countries to call upon governments, companies – and neighbours – to act.