Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality


Discrimination based on gender is a violation of human rights, but violence against women is a global pandemic. In 2018, 750 million females were married before the age of 18. Only 52% of married women make their own decisions about sexual relations and contraceptive health. Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is prominent in 30 countries, and within these areas, one in three women between the ages 15 and 19 are subjected to it. In the last year alone, one in five women experienced physical and/or sexual abuse by an intimate partner. 

Gender inequality begins at birth and follows a woman throughout her entire life. To reach gender equality, we must understand that inequality exists in the home, in the workplace, in civic engagement, and everywhere in between. Sustainable Development Goal 5 recognizes that gender equality is essential to expand economic growth and promote social development.

The Goal 

SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

Targets and Indicators 

SDG 5 has nine targets, or specific goals, measured through various indicators. Legal frameworks are the best indicator of progress because they promote, enforce, and monitor gender equality. One of SDG 5’s targets is to eliminate all forms of gender discrimination everywhere. Gender discrimination includes not having an equal say in all decisions or being denied work because of your gender. 

Another important target is to acknowledge and provide public services for unpaid care and domestic work, which is disproportionately dominated by women. Unpaid care can include taking care of a sick family member or being a stay-at-home mom. 

What’s Already Being Done

Although there is a lack of consistent legal frameworks attempting to achieve SDG 5, gender equality is still making some progress. Between 2000 and 2018, the cases of women undergoing FGM decreased by one-fourth. In Southern Asia, child marriage has dropped by 40% since 2000. In 2019, women made up, on average, about 24.2% of national parliamentary representation, which increased from 19% in 2010. From 2009 to 2019, 131 economies made 274 legal reforms to laws and regulations in support of gender equality, but further reform must continue if we’re going to achieve SDG 5.

There are various non-governmental organizations working to meet the goals of SDG 5. For instance, EqualityNow works to increase gender equality and fight sexual violence, particularly helping victims of FGM. It also works to end sex trafficking and achieve legal rights for women and girls across the world, from Mali to the United States. 

Applying It: How Everyone Can Help

How can you help promote gender equality? Point out and fight against gender biases when you encounter them. Monitor your language to be more accepting and encouraging, regardless of gender. Embrace healthy and equal relationships, including making sure everyone has an equal say in decisions. Everyone can help support SDG 5 through supportive words, standing up to biases, using inclusive language, and getting involved in organizations that fight for gender equality.

Think Further

  1. How does education impact gender equality?
  2. What form of gender inequality were you most aware of? What area would you like to learn more about?
  3. What is one action you can take to fight for gender equality?


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Learn More

  1. “Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls”. United Nations. United Nations. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  2. Ritchie, Roser, Mispy, Ortiz-Ospina. “Measuring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.” United Nations. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  3. “Why It Matters?”: United Nations. United Nations. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  4. “Equality Now”. Equality Now. Accessed May 19, 2020.
  5. “WomenOne.” WomenOne. Accessed May 19, 2020.