SDG 5: Gender Equality



global average 2019 SDG Gender Index score on SDG 5


of murders of women were committed by their partners


current heads of state or government are female

Why SDG 5 matters for gender equality

SDG 5 is unique in focusing on one population group: girls and women. However, its achievement requires strong progress for girls and women across every other SDG.

SDG 5 creates clear linkages between its overall goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women, including its own targets on ending discrimination and eliminating violence against women, and other SDG targets that reflect specific gender issues: the SDG 3 targets for family planning and reproductive health; the SDG 4 targets for gender parity in education; and the SDG 16 targets on the elimination of sexual exploitation and trafficking, among many others. SDG 5 is also aspirational.

While no nation on earth has ended discrimination against women, target 5.1 represents a catalytic call to action. Other targets were hotly contested, including 5.4 on recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work, and 5.6 on universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

Their very presence within the final SDG agenda provides a strong mandate for advocacy on responsive and transformative legislation and for far greater investment in girls and women.

Equal Measures 2030, Photo by Davids Kokainis on Unsplash
Photo by Davids Kokainis on Unsplash

Issues and Indicators

The 2019 SDG Gender Index examines gender focused issues and data under SDG 5 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 5aProportion of women aged 20-24 years married or in a union before age 18
RationaleChild marriage undermines girls’ basic rights, health, education and economic prospects. The practice also harms entire countries: World Bank estimates that ending child marriage would increase national earnings by, on average, 1%.
Indicator 5bProportion of women who agree that a husband/ partner is justified in beating his wife/partner
RationaleDomestic violence and gender-based violence emerge from discriminatory social norms that govern attitudes and behaviours. According to UNICEF “data on attitudes towards wife-beating offer clues on how girls and women are perceived within a given society.” [10][10] UNICEF, “Attitudes and Social Norms on Violence”. (New York: UNICEF, November 2017),

Indicator 5cThe extent to which there are legal grounds for abortion (score)
RationaleSafe abortion services are critical to women’s ability to make choices about their own bodies and have agency over their reproductive health. Yet it has been calculated that 6% of the world’s 1.6 billion women of reproductive age live in countries where abortion is banned, and only 37% in countries where it is allowed without restriction [11].[11] Guttmacher Institute, “Induced Abortion Worldwide” (New York: Guttmacher, 2018,)
Indicator 5dProportion of seats held by women in national parliaments
RationaleWomen are critically under-represented in national parliaments. Under- representation of women in national governments is a rights issue and has detrimental effects on society, as bodies that govern citizens’ daily lives miss the perspectives and experiences of half the population. More female lawmakers are associated with improved government accountability, more passed legislation, and increased compromise between political factions.
Indicator 5eProportion of ministerial/senior government positions held by women
RationaleParity at all levels of government is fundamental to rights of equal representation and to create an enabling environment for equality and good governance. Yet data from the IPU reveal that in 2019, less than 10% of world leaders were women and 20% of government ministers were women [12].
[12] IPU, IPU, “Women in Politics 2017” (Geneva: IPU, 2017),