In The Loop: SDG 5 Gender Equality 2020 | Riley Studio

In The Loop: SDG 5 Gender Equality 2020

by Riley Studio |

Today is International Women’s Day, and each year we use it as an opportunity to highlight Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls. With women representing half of the global population, unlocking their potential and allowing them equal rights will change the world, for the better. 

A recent study, The Power of Parity, found that the global economy would grow by an estimated $28 trillion by the year 2025 if women participated in the economy to the same degree as men.

Although progress has been made, gender inequality is still prevalent and exists in every country around the world. As of last year, no country was on track to achieve gender equality by 2030 as set out by the SDGs. The inaugural SDG Gender Index, developed by the Equal Measures 2030 partnership, found that 2.8 billion women and girls currently live in countries that are not doing enough to improve women’s lives. Regardless of where you live, gender equality is a fundamental human right, and is essential for achieving a prosperous and sustainable world.

If you want to learn more about Gender Equality, we recommend reading The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates and Why Women Will Save the Planet by Friends of the Earth

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015 and are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States. It provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. 

The SDGs are a call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our forests and oceans. A huge but vitally important task!

What is SDG 5?

SDG 5 focuses on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls. 

The goal contains specific targets to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, end female genital mutilation and child marriage, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, uphold women’s reproductive rights and tackle the root of gender inequality - such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes and political participation.

What Progress Has Been Made?

While some indicators of gender equality are progressing, such as a significant decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation and early marriage, the overall numbers continue to be high. Insufficient progress on structural issues are hindering progress towards achieving SDG 5.

UN Women released a report titled, Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals - The Gender Snapshot 2019, which you can read here. It highlights that gender equality affects each of the SDGs and they are all interlinked. Achieving gender equality is critical to achieving the other goals. 

Child Marriage
The practice of child marriage has continued to decline around the world, largely driven by progress in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood decreased by about one quarter between 2013 and 2018. In sub-Saharan Africa, levels of child marriage have declined at a more modest rate.

Female Genital Mutilation
At least 200 million girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation, based on data from 30 countries where the practice is concentrated and where nationally representative prevalence data is available. In these countries, the prevalence of this harmful practice declined by one quarter between approximately 2000 and 2018.

18 percent of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence in the previous 12 months. The prevalence is highest in least developed countries, at 24 per cent.

Gender Bias 
According to recent data from some 90 countries, women devote on average roughly three times more hours a day to unpaid care and domestic work than men, limiting the time available for paid work, education and leisure and further reinforcing gender-based socioeconomic disadvantages.

Political Leadership
Women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership. As at 1 January 2019, women’s representation in national Parliaments ranged from 0 to 61.3 per cent, with the average standing at 24.2 percent, an increase from 19 per cent in 2010. At the local level, data from 99 countries and areas show that women’s representation in elected deliberative bodies varies from less than 1 per cent to 48 per cent, with the median of the distribution at 26 per cent. When legislated gender quotas are adopted, significantly higher proportions of women are elected at both national and local levels.

While women represented 39 per cent of world employment, only 27 percent of managerial positions in the world were occupied by women in 2018, up only marginally from 26 per cent in 2015. The proportion of women in management has increased since 2000 in all regions except in least developed countries.

In 51 countries with data on the subject, only 57 per cent of women aged 15 to 49, married or in union, make their own decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives and health services.

Legal Rights
Over the past 25 years, there has been progress in reforming laws towards improving gender equality, yet discriminatory laws and gaps in legal protection remain in many countries. On the basis of data collected across four areas of law in 2018 from 53 countries, almost a third have legal gaps in the area of overarching legal frameworks and public life (e.g., constitutions, antidiscrimination laws, quotas, legal aid); more than a quarter have legal gaps in the area of violence against women; and 29 per cent and 24 per cent have legal gaps in the employment and economic benefits area and in the marriage and family area, respectively.

How Can I Help?

You can use your voice to support women and highlight their critical involvement in securing a sustainable planet and future for all. Learning all about the issues that are being faced today will empower you with the knowledge to make a change. The UN has set out the following recommendations of things that we can do to help advance gender equality.

Below you will also find a few organisations, campaigns and resources linked to gender equality if you want to learn more and help educate others about the problems we still need to solve globally! :


“If you are a girl, you can stay in school, help empower your female classmates to do the same and fight for your right to access sexual and reproductive health services. If you are a woman, you can address unconscious biases and implicit associations that form an unintended and often an invisible barrier to equal opportunity. If you are a man or a boy, you can work alongside women and girls to achieve gender equality and embrace healthy, respectful relationships. You can fund education campaigns to curb cultural practices like female genital mutilation and change harmful laws that limit the rights of women and girls and prevent them from achieving their full potential.”