Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender equality is a human right. It is also a precondition for realizing all goals in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Though girls and boys on average face similar challenges in early childhood, gender disparities become more pronounced as children grow.  Adolescent girls, due to expected gender roles, may face a disproportionate burden of domestic work, expectations to be married, risks of early pregnancy, as well as sexual and gender-based violence. Globally, 650 million girls and women alive today have been married as children and over 200 million have undergone female genital mutilation. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened existing gender inequalities, especially for the most marginalized children.

UNICEF’s contribution towards reaching Goal 5 centres on embedding gender equitable results across all programming to ensure that children grow, learn and thrive, regardless of their gender. UNICEF places a special focus on adolescent girls in recognition that investment in adolescent girls has the potential to bring about transformative change for girls, their families and their communities, as well as for the next generation. UNICEF also supports governments in generating, analysing and using gender data to identify and address barriers to gender equality among children and women. 

UNICEF is the custodian for global monitoring for two indicators that measure progress towards Goal 5: Indicator 5.3.1 Proportion of women aged 20–24 years who were married or in a union before age 15 and before age 18; and Indicator 5.3.2 Proportion of girls and women aged 15–49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age. UNICEF  is also co-custodian for two Goal 5 indicators: Indicator 5.2.1 Proportion of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by form of violence and by age; and Indicator 5.2.2 Proportion of women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by age and place of occurrence.

In addition, UNICEF is the custodian or co-custodian of four additional sex-disaggregated or gender-specific child focused indicators under Goals 3, 4, 8 and 16:

Child-related SDG indicators

TARGET 5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere

TARGET 5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation

TARGET 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation

TARGET 5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences

Key asks

UNICEF encourages governments to address adolescent girls’ issues, empowering them with the education and skills required to realize their full potential. UNICEF has three key asks of governments:

  1. Give adolescent girls all the opportunities they deserve as they mature to adulthood.
  2. Support women’s economic empowerment and redistribution of care responsibilities through investments in family-friendly policies across workplaces.  
  3. Address the gender gap through timely collection and use of gender-disaggregated data.

Learn more about UNICEF’s key asks for implementing Goal 5