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SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

UV Vice-Rectorate for Equality

While there was global progress on gender equality between 2000 and 2015 through the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education), women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence in all parts of the world.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but the necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Sadly, today, 1 in 5 women and girls aged 15-49 reported experiencing physical or sexual violence, or both, at the hands of an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to being asked about it. In addition, 49 countries have no laws protecting women from domestic violence. Also, while progress has been made in protecting women and girls from harmful practices such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), which has decreased by 30 per cent in the last decade, there is still much work to be done to end these practices.

Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will boost sustainable economies, and societies and humanity as a whole will benefit at the same time.

Establishing new legal frameworks on women's equality in the workplace and the eradication of harmful practices against women is crucial to ending the gender-based discrimination that prevails in many countries around the world.


Outstanding data

  • Globally, 750 million women and girls were married before the age of 18 and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries underwent female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have equal inheritance rights; and in 49 countries there are no laws protecting women from domestic violence.
  • One in five women and girls, including 19 per cent of women and girls aged 15-49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the past 12 months. However, in 49 countries there are no laws specifically protecting women against such violence.
  • While women have made significant gains in political office-holding around the world, their representation in national parliaments of 23.7% is still far from parity.
  • Only 52% of women who are married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.
  • Globally, women owning agricultural land account for only 13 percent.
  • More than 100 countries have taken steps to track budget allocations for gender equality.
  • Women in North Africa have access to fewer than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. The share of women in wage employment outside the agricultural sector has increased from 35 per cent in 1990 to 41 per cent in 2015.
  • In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 per cent of seats in national parliaments in at least one chamber.
  • In South Asia, a girl's risk of child marriage has declined by more than 40 per cent since 2000.
  • The rates of girls aged 15-19 undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM/C) in the 30 countries where the practice is concentrated have fallen from 1 in 2 girls in 2000 to 1 in 3 girls by 2017.

Goal 5 targets

5.1  End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere

5.2  Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other forms of exploitation

5.3  Eliminate all harmful practices, including child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and cutting

5.4  Recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work through public services, infrastructure and social protection policies, and by promoting shared responsibility in the household and family, as appropriate in each country

5.5  Ensure women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all decision-making levels in political, economic and public life

5.6  Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of its review conferences

5.7  Undertake reforms that give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws

5.8  Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote women's empowerment

5.9  Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable laws to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels