SDG 8: Work & Economic Growth



global average 2019 SDG Gender Index score on SDG 8


of women in non-agricultural jobs are in informal employment in South Asia


of women in Latin America and the Caribbean are in informal employment

Why SDG 8 matters to gender equality

Women’s access to decent work and to incomes not only improves their agency over their own lives, but can also reduce poverty and maternal mortality, and improve health, nutrition and educational outcomes for women and their families.

Advancing women’s equality to close existing economic and social gender gaps could boost global GDP by $12 trillion (or 11%) by 2025 if every country matched the progress of the fastest-improving country in their region.

Gender equality in employment gives women more decision-making power and enhances family well-being: they will typically invest more of their income than men in the health, nutrition and education of their children.

National evidence from Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the UK also demonstrates that women’s ability to earn and take part in financial decisions increases families’ resilience to economic shocks.

Yet, labour inequalities are pervasive, with women often facing legal and social hurdles around the types of jobs available to them and their ability to own and use land – also an issue for SDG 1.

Meanwhile, they do twice as much unpaid work as men. Women in developing countries are more likely than men to work in informal, poorly paid or unsafe jobs. SDG target 8.8 on labour rights recognises the risks of exploitation, trafficking and forced labour, while target 8.7 aims to eradicate such violations, which affect more than 40 million people – mostly girls and women – undermining global development and stability.

Nina Robinson / The Verbatim Agency / Getty Images, Equal Measures 2030
Nina Robinson / The Verbatim Agency / Getty Images

Issues and Indicators

The 2019 SDG Gender Index examines gender focused issues and data under SDG 8 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 8aWage equality between men and women for similar work (score)
RationaleWomen, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. Earning disparities contribute to income inequality, gaps in labor force participation rates between men and women, and inequalities in lifetime earnings, pensions, and savings.
Indicator 8bProportion of women recognized as “contributing family workers” (as a % of total female employment)
RationaleHigh rates of women’s work in particularly vulnerable roles within the informal economy are linked to women’s lack of access to secondary education and vocational training, barriers to their legal entry into the formal workforce, and a lack of government policies to support their work.
Indicator 8cExtent of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in law (score)
RationaleWorkers’ ability to freely associate, form unions, and engage in collective bargaining is particularly critical to women’s abilities to advocate for better working conditions, improve wages, and implement policies that protect them from workplace dangers (including harassment and violence).
Indicator 8dExtent to which a country has laws mandating women’s workplace equality (score)
RationaleWomen face legal barriers to economic participation, including access to ID documents and obstacles to property, getting a job or building credit. The need for more equitable legal frameworks is recognised in SDG target 8.5, though lack indicators on legal reform or targets for women’s economic rights.
Indicator 8dProportion of women who hold a bank account at a financial institution
RationaleWhen women make their own decisions about how to spend their own money, and when they have more control over their own finances and those of their household, they are more likely to channel resources to food, water, children’s education and healthcare [15].

[15] L. Kienzle, “Helping Women Control Their Financial Lives through Digital Financial Services”, Center for Financial Inclusion Blog, July 26, 2018 (Washington, DC: CFI, 2018),