BRIDGE Gender Update: The Sustainable Development Goals, Gender and Indicators

In this issue: 

This update focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and gender-sensitive indicators and highlights key relevant resources featured in the BRIDGE global resources database.

October 2015
Issue number: 

A new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was formally adopted in a UN summit on 25-27 September 2015 following a two year process of global consultations and intergovernmental negotiations. The SDG framework brings together all three aspects of sustainable development – the economic, social and environmental – in a much more integrated way than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ever did. The framework consists of 17 goals and 169 targets that will apply to all countries, with a deadline of 2030 to be met.

Whilst the global agreement reached around the goals is a considerable achievement the next step is to develop meaningful national and international indicators against which progress will be measured. Furthermore taking an integrated approach to the new universal goals will also be vital to their success and national governments should be discouraged from choosing to focus on just a few of the 17 goals. Real world issues are by their nature intertwined and separating them out could risk undermining effectiveness. For example, if attempts to address other SDGs ignore gender, they risk missing their mark, or worse, undermining women’s rights and capabilities further. 

Women’s organisations and activists fought strongly for a stand-alone SDG on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. Many recommendations made by the Women’s Major Group (WMG)  were taken up in the final document and Goal 5 now offers the potential to embed gender equality into transformative approaches to sustainable development. For this promise to be fulfilled, however, it is vital that stand-alone does not mean siloed. 

Goal 5 speaks specifically to governments’ commitments to end discrimination and gender-based violence; eliminate child marriage and female genital mutilation; ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care; protect women and girls' reproductive rights; eliminate gender disparities in education; expand women's economic opportunities and recognize their rights to resources; and reduce the burdens of unpaid care work on women and girls. All of this represents a big leap compared to the minimal commitments on gender in the predecessor MDGs.

Indicators for all goals and targets are still to be agreed. The Independent-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) has begun a consultation on the indicator framework and formal agreement and launch of indicators will take place in March 2016. The global indicator framework must measure the factors that are most likely to lead to transformative change and the realisation of gender equality and human rights. This is in recognition of the fact that gender inequality spans all dimensions of poverty, and that the opportunities available to women to participate meaningfully in political and public life, and their capacity to do so, are affected by a wide range of issues, including education, healthcare and livelihoods.  In addition indicators must be both quantitative and qualitative, gender-differentiated statistics and indicators must be collected to measure gender gaps and rectify inequalities and data must be disaggregated in such a way that it is relevant to monitoring inequalities. 

What is needed now is active feminist mobilisation to ensure that the document is translated into action to end poverty and transform all forms of oppression.

This collection of resources provides arguments embedding gender equality into the implementation of the SDGs in a way that will truly be transformative, resisting the systemic obstacles ahead, and translating words into action to end impoverishment for all.

Supporting Resources: 

The following is a selection of key resources related to the topic of  the Sustainable Development Goals and gender sensitive indicators recently added to the BRIDGE global resources database.  

You can search for more resources on the BRIDGE website, including French and Spanish ones.

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

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).

2030 Development Agenda Gets Adopted – Strong On Gender But Structural Obstacles Remain

To what extent were gender equality and women’s empowerment incorporated in the 2030 development agenda? This piece by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development analyses how gender issues were negotiated during the consultation process - outlining successes and setbacks and suggesting steps forward.

IAEG-SDG — SDG Indicators

The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGS) conducted an open consultation on the development of a global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals with all countries, regional and international agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector. This resource comprises a summary of all comments received.

Women in Power: Beyond Access to Influence in a Post-2015 World

This report sets out VSO’s thinking regarding women’s equal participation and influence in public and political life and why it considers these issues to have instrumental importance. It assesses the current situation, demonstrating gaps in power, outlining barriers to and enablers of participation, and sets out how the post-2015 framework can integrate these priorities within a goal, target and indicator structure.

Draft outcome document of the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda

The draft outcome document lays out a set of 17 sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets that demonstrate the scale and ambition of the new universal agenda for Sustainable Development and will come into effect on 1 January 2016. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is not only recognized and integrated across all the Goals and targets but also as a stand-alone goal with specific targets (Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).

Priority Indicator Proposals on Gender Equality and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, as agreed by the Women’s Major Group

This report presents the Women’s Major Group’s recommended indicators on gender equality and sexual and reproductive health. Alongside every proposed indicator is a data source (for example country studies, National Health Information systems, Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), a rational for the indicator, disaggregation required and possible weaknesses.

Women’s Major Group Indicator Proposals

This resource presents the Women’s Major Group’s recommendations for SDG indicators. On an overarching basis the Women's Major Group puts forth that the global indicator framework for the SDG goals and targets must measure the factors that are most likely to lead to transformative change and the realisation of gender equality and human rights.
In the news: 

Food security Cutting Edge resources now available in French and Spanish

The BRIDGE Gender and Food Security Cutting Edge Pack is now available to download in Spanish and French. A limited number of In Briefs in both languages are available in print as well. Please email us if you would like to receive copies.

Our regional partners’ websites Observaction (Francophone Africa) and (Latin America) are currently developing new pages on their websites on food security integrating resources on the topic from their region. You can visit them on Observaction and Anacaonas.

EMERGE evidence report published

Engendering Men: Evidence on Routes to Gender Equality’ (EMERGE) is a two-year project to build an openly accessible basis of evidence, lessons and guidance for working with boys and men to promote gender equality, by early 2016. A consortium of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Promundo-US and Sonke Gender Justice Network collaborates in reviewing and analysing existing evidence, in documenting lessons from the field and in developing guidance for improved learning, policy and practice.  The EMERGE project has produced an evidence report that critically assesses trends and shifts in engaging men and boys for gender equality over the past 20 years. It explores successful policies and programmes and implications for best practice, as well as future directions for promoting men and boys’ support for gender equality, across a variety of priority thematic areas. Find out more about the report here.

The Guttmacher- Lancet Commission on SRHR in the post 2015 world

A  special event was held in New York on the 25th September 2015 launching the Guttmacher- Lancet Commission on SRHR in the post 2015 world. In acknowledgement of UN processes failure to articulate a sufficiently progressive and evidence-based vision of how to move forward on sexual and reproductive health and rights the Guttmacher Institute and The Lancet are establishing a Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 world. The Commission will begin work in early 2016 with the aim of developing a wide-ranging and evidence-based agenda for key sexual and reproductive health and rights priorities worldwide over the next 15 years; just as important, it will also make the case for the adoption of policies and programmes to turn that vision into reality. Although it will encompass all elements of sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Commission will emphasise important concerns that have been overlooked or neglected in the SDGs, such as the availability of safe abortion and access to high-quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, including for adolescents, men, and sexual minorities, that respect sexual and reproductive rights and prioritise the needs of vulnerable and neglected populations.