Global Resources

Measuring progress on women’s participation and influence in decision-making in the SDGs: Recommendations to the Inter-agency and Expert Group and UN Member States

Author: M Vlahakis, A Hunt, C Ballantine
Publisher: Gender and Development Network
Publication Date: Jul 2015

A new publication launched by Womankind, in partnership with the UK Gender and Development Network (GADN), sets out recommendations on global indicators for measuring women’s participation and leadership under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It specifically calls for the inclusion of a qualitative indicator for Target 5.5 “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”.

The SDG declaration and framework will be adopted at a UN summit in New York from 25th to 27th September. Discussions on what global indicators will be needed to monitor progress in the implementation of the SDGs will, however, continue until at least March 2016.

In relation to target 5.5 a qualitative indicator is essential. Calculating women’s political participation by measuring the number of women in representative politics is not enough. Only by also capturing women’s own experiences of decision-making through a self-reported indicator can women’s progress towards ‘full and effective participation’ be effectively measured. Such an approach will not only determine the extent to which women are represented but also the extent to which these women are able to influence decision making processes at all levels, the positions they hold and the degree to which they are representative of poor and marginalised women.

The authors propose the below set of indicators for target 5.5:

  • Proportion of seats held by women in local governments and national parliaments, disaggregated including by socio-economic status, and the proportion of those seats held at a leadership, ministerial or cabinet level.
  • Female politicians’ perceptions of the impact that they have on decision -making, by level of government

Adoption of the above will allow transformative change to be captured, as a picture will be built up of how social norms, discrimination and negative attitudes which limit women’s meaningful participation change in the years to come.