Issue: Women’s household decision-making power

Relevance and promising measurement approaches:

Improving women’s agency, specifically their ability to define and act upon their own goals, is critical for advancing gender equality. Evidence from Mexico shows that increases in labour market opportunities improve women’s decision-making power as well as children’s health. World Bank research from Pakistan also shows that when a woman has more decision-making power, her household is more likely to spend its income on footwear, clothing, medical care and education.

This indicator is not part of the official SDG framework, but can be measured through the World Values Survey (WVS) and DHS. The 6th WVS covered 60 countries and DHS decision-making modules are widely available, though the methodology behind the survey questions is widely contested.

Issue: Women’s reproductive health and agency

Relevance and promising measurement approaches:

Data from 45 countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, reveal that only 52% of women aged 15–49 who are married or in a union reported that they make their own decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives. Increased contraceptive use from 1990 to 2008 contributed to 1.7 million fewer maternal deaths, and if the needs for modern contraceptives were fully met there would be an estimated 76,000 fewer maternal deaths each year (2017).

There is an official SDG indicator (tier II), which is measured through DHS and MICS surveys that cover most low- and middle-income countries. The methodology builds on available information from DHS surveys in approximately 70 countries, where the indicator can be disaggregated by location, household wealth quintile and education. The indicator is also disaggregated by method of contraception. The proposal is to add age, marital status (married, in union, unmarried) and disability.

Issue: Assessment of CEDAW implementation

Relevance and promising measurement approaches:

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted by the UN in 1979 and ratified by 189 of its 193 member states, is considered an international bill of rights for women. Civil society organizations and women’s groups have used the Convention to hold governments accountable to their formal legal obligations to eliminate discrimination against women.

CEDAW is overseen by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, elected by state parties to CEDAW. All state parties to CEDAW must submit regular reports to the Committee every four years, detailing legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures to implement CEDAW principles at national level. The OECD and UN also facilitate regular regional assessments detailing the best regional practices and challenges of CEDAW implementation.

Issue: Prevalence of violence against girls and women (especially IPV)

Relevance and promising measurement approaches:

Girls and women are particularly vulnerable to violence, abuse and even femicide by those closest to them, including family members and intimate partners. This human rights violation also has intergenerational effects: children in families where there is a prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) are more likely to have subsequent problems with parenting and to maltreat their own children.

The main sources of data on IPV are national surveys dedicated to measuring violence against women and broader surveys that include a module of questions on experiences of violence by women, mainly the DHS. Other surveys also cover violence to a lesser extent, including Reproductive Health Surveys and Crime Victimization Surveys.