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WEC report on UK Government and UN women's equality goals


14 March 2017

The Government must publish a plan on how it intends to achieve gender equality, a new report from the Women and Equalities Committee says.

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations, in which the UK strongly advocated for the inclusion of SDG 5, a commitment to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030. However, unlike 22 other countries, the UK Government has not set out a clear strategic plan for how this international obligation will be met.

The Committee's report found that many of the targets under SDG 5 require cross-departmental working and it is not clear that effective lines of responsibility for co-ordinating this have been established. The Committee has called on the Government to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to achieve this.


Report findings

In the report, the Committee recommends that:

  • The Government should domestically publicise its commitment to the SDGs in the UK and immediately commit to reporting to the UN's High Level Political Forum in 2018.
  • The Minister for Women and Equalities should take responsibility for ensuring the achievement of SDG 5 across government.
  • The Government Equalities Office (GEO) should immediately consult on developing the most effective mechanism for facilitating ongoing partnership between government and civil society to achieve SDG 5.
  • The GEO should ensure that the key SDG principle of 'leaving no-one behind' is fully embedded in its revised Single Departmental Plan.
  • There is confusion around the role of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in developing national indicators and monitoring progress towards SDG 5, and this role must be clarified. The Government should also ensure funding for expert organisations to participate fully in the data collection and monitoring functions necessary for the successful achievement of SDG 5.

There are nine targets under SDG 5. These are:

  1. End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  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.
  3. Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
  4. Recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
  5. Ensure women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
  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.
  7. Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  8. Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
  9. Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.