SDG 16: Peace & Institutions



global average 2019 SDG Gender Index score on SDG 16


of women globally experienced physical and/or sexual violence (in 2017)


million people had been forcibly displaced by persecution, conflict and widespread violence (by end of 2017)

Why SDG 16 matters for gender equality

Progress on every SDG requires strong government institutions. SDG 16 spans institutional issues from peace to participatory decision making, and each one matters for girls and women. Government institutions that criminalize violence against women (target 16.1) codify their rights to live free of violence.

The rule of law (target 16.3) requires judicial systems that offer women legal protection. And women are crucial for participatory decision making (target 16.7).

Women in parliaments, for example, are more likely to sponsor legislation and compromise across political lines, and less likely to be corrupt. Yet as seen in SDG 5, women face barriers to political power. Amongst female parliamentarians surveyed in 2016, more than four in ten (44%) had been threatened with death, rape, beating or abductions while in office.

The general breakdown in law, order and state institutions that occurs during conflict has particularly dangerous effects for women, including increases in rates of sexual violence and gender-based violence (GBV). Such upticks have been documented in nearly every region of the globe, from Bosnia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to El Salvador and Myanmar. The majority of 86 civil wars around the world between 1980 and 2009 saw at least one year of numerous or massive reported rapes. Girls and women experience violence during conflict not only at the hands of combatants, but also civilians. Reports find that rates of intimate partner sexual violence and domestic violence increase during conflict.

Post-conflict situations are key moments to rebuild strong institutions that guarantee accountability and women’s participation. UNDP suggests that inclusive post-conflict political processes help to foster community resilience, restore the social contract between states and citizens, consolidate peace building and promote progress towards development goals.

In Rwanda, for example, post-genocide policies since 1994 have enabled more women to participate in the legislature, supporting the country’s development successes, including gender parity in literacy and primary enrolment. Today, Rwanda’s Parliament is comprised of over 60% women, the highest percentage worldwide.

Plan International / Olivier Herold

Issues and Indicators

The 2019 SDG Gender Index examines gender focused issues and data under SDG 16 and provides a more complete picture of both the goal itself and its relationship to gender equality. Explore the included issues and indicators below.

Indicator 16aProportion of children <5 years whose births were registered with a civil authority
RationaleWhile registration rates for girls and boys are almost equal, lack of registration has a disproportionate impact on girls and women. It denies girls birth certificates that can prove their age and prevent child marriage [18].[18] J. Lomelin, “How Birth Certificates Help Combat Child Marriage,” December 2, 2014 (London: Girls Not Brides)
Indicator 16bFemale victims of intentional homicide (per 100,000 population)
RationaleWhile most victims of lethal violence are men, violence against women is pervasive and the rates of women killed by intentional homicide vary widely by country. An estimated 35% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Indicator 16cPercentage of seats held by women on a country’s Supreme Court or highest court
RationaleGender equality on courts is crucial for participatory decision making, ensuring that judicial systems offer and enforce women’s legal protections, and mitigating the discrimination and hostility that many women and marginalised groups face from authorities (for example in reporting sexual violence).
Indicator 16dExtent to which a state is viewed as legitimate, open, and representative (score)
RationaleProgress across the entire 2030 Agenda requires strong and accountable government institutions. The general breakdown in law, order, and state institutions (e.g., that occurs during conflict) is particularly dangerous for women, including higher rates of gender-based violence [19].

[19] EM2030, “Data Driving Change,” (2018),