Gender equality lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which recognizes that achieving gender equality is a matter of human rights and is crucial to progress across all the goals and targets.
While being a goal in its own right, gender equality cuts across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is reflected in 45 targets and 54 indicators for the SDGs. Furthermore, gender equality can be a catalytic policy intervention that triggers positive multiplier effects across the spectrum of development.
Evidence collected in this paper shows that gender equality is critical to achieving a wide range of objectives pertaining to sustainable development, from promoting economic growth and labour productivity, to reducing poverty and enhancing human capital through health and education, attaining food security, addressing climate change impacts and strengthening resilience to disasters, and ensuring more peaceful and inclusive communities. Based on this evidence, the paper argues that accelerating the pace of advancing gender equality in all spheres of society leads to a more rapid increase in progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.
The paper suggests that action in the following key areas is needed to accelerate progress:
(i) ensuring equal rights, opportunities and outcomes for both women and men;
(ii) enhancing women’s agency, capabilities and participation in decision-making processes;
(iii) eliminating gender-based violence and discrimination;
(iv) transforming power relations at all levels of society.
Achieving equality between women and men also requires institutionalizing a gender-responsive approach to financing, and ensuring that adequate investments are made to implement national plans and policies for gender equality and women’s empowerment. These include, among others, promoting decent work, ensuring access to resources, reducing and redistributing unpaid care and domestic work, and strengthening social protection for all. The systematic design and collection of and access to high-quality, reliable and timely gender-disaggregated data are essential to implementing effective and evidence-based policies.
To advance gender equality, it is also important to implement and reinforce legal and institutional arrangements on gender equality, while strengthening accountability mechanisms for fulfilling existing commitments. This requires political will and stronger multi-stakeholder collaboration involving not only national and local governments, but also civil society, the private sector, academia and the media.