SDG 3: Health



global average 2019 SDG Gender Index score on SDG 3


new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women every year


girls aged between 15 and 19 years give birth each year

Why SDG 3 matters for gender equality

Gender inequalities often determine who suffers the heaviest burden of disease and who can access healthcare, with women’s health undermined by gender-based violence (GBV), lack of control over household resources, and unpaid and unhealthy work. Girls and women cooking on open fires in their homes, for example, breathe in pollutants that contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

They face gender-specific health risks, including female genital mutilation (FGM), and complications during pregnancy and childbirth such as obstetric fistula.

Girls and women are not only more vulnerable to health problems – they also have less access to healthcare. In some communities, medical treatment for girls and women is not a priority. Women bear a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work – including caring for the sick.

Unpaid care work is thought to cost around 13% of global GDP each year ($10 trillion).

When girls and women have good prenatal care and safe birthing facilities, infant mortality rates fall and child health improves. Investment in adolescent girls’ health increases their chances of finishing secondary school and of finding productive work.

And ending the disproportionate burden of poor health on girls and women would enhance progress on education, gender equality and economic growth (SDGs 4, 5 and 8).

Plan International / Georgina Goodwin, Equal Measures 2030
Plan International / Georgina Goodwin

Issues and Indicators

The 2019 SDG Gender Index examines gender focused issues and data under SDG 3 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 3aMaternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births)
RationaleSafe pregnancy and childbirth are linchpins of women’s health. While maternal mortality has fallen globally since 1990, inequities persist across regions and within countries, with the highest rates of mortality among the poorest girls and women and those living in rural areas.
Indicator 3bAdolescent birth rate (births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years)
RationaleGender inequalities drive high birth rates among adolescent girls, while early childbearing denies them vital opportunities, including education. Early pregnancy is linked to lack of access to reproductive health services and to the harmful practices of child, early and forced marriage.
Indicator 3cProportion of women married or in a union (aged 15-49 years) who have had their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods
RationaleModern methods of family planning enable girls and women to make choices about their own bodies, avoid unwanted or dangerous pregnancies and space out their births, a practice that reduces the risks for women and babies and increases household investment in each child.