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| Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Gender equality is not just a fundamental human right, it is one of the essential foundations for building a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

Some progress has been made in recent decades: more girls are in school and fewer girls are forced into early marriage; there are more women in parliamentary and leadership positions, and laws are being reformed to promote gender equality.

Despite these achievements, many challenges remain: discriminatory laws and social norms remain pervasive, women continue to be underrepresented at all levels of political leadership, and 1 in 5 women and girls aged 15 to 49 claim to have suffered sexual violence or physical in the hands of an intimate partner over a 12-month period.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could reverse the limited gains that have been made in gender equality and women's rights. The coronavirus outbreak exacerbates existing inequalities for women and girls around the world; from health and the economy to safety and social protection.

Women play a disproportionate role in the response to the virus, including as frontline health professionals and home caregivers. Women's unpaid work has increased significantly as a result of school closings and the increasing needs of the elderly. Women are also more affected by the economic effects of COVID-19, as they work disproportionately in precarious labor markets. About 60% of women work in the informal economy, which further exposes them to poverty.

The pandemic has also led to a sharp increase in violence against women and girls. With the containment measures in place, many women find themselves trapped at home with their abusers, with difficulties in accessing services that are suffering cuts and restrictions. The new data show that, since the beginning of the pandemic, violence against women and girls (and especially domestic violence) has intensified.


Response to COVID-19  


"The limited progress in gender equality and women's rights achieved over the decades is in danger of being reversed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," said the United Nations Secretary-General in April 2020, urging governments to put women and girls at the center of their recovery efforts.

Women are not only the most affected by this pandemic, they are also the backbone of community recovery.

Placing women and girls at the center of economies will fundamentally lead to better and more sustainable development outcomes​​ for all, it will support a faster recovery and put the world on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

All COVID-19 response plans, as well as all recovery resource packages and budgets, must address the gender effects of this pandemic. This means: (1) including women and women's organizations in COVID-19's decision-making and response plans; (2) transforming inequalities in unpaid care work into a new inclusive care economy that works for all; and (3) designing socioeconomic plans with a purposeful focus on the lives and futures of women and girls.

UN Women has developed a rapid and targeted response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women and girls and to ensure that long-term recovery benefits them, targeting five priorities:

  1. Mitigate and reduce gender-based violence, including domestic violence.

  2. Promote social protection and economic stimulus packages that cater to women and girls.

  3. Encourage people to support and practice equitable sharing of care work.

  4. Encourage women and girls to lead and participate in the planning and decision-making of the COVID-19 response.

  5. Ensure that data and coordination mechanisms include a gender perspective.

The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to take radical and positive action to offset traditional inequalities in many areas of women's lives and to build a more just and resilient world.


| Notable Data  

  • Globally, 750 million women and girls were married before age 18 and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries have suffered female genital mutilation (FGM).

  • In 18 countries, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working; in 39 countries, daughters and sons do not have the same inheritance rights; and in 49 countries there are no laws to protect women from domestic violence.

  • One in five women and girls, including 19% of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner during the past 12 months. However, in 49 countries there are no laws that specifically protect women from such violence.

  • While it is true that women have made significant progress in assuming political positions around the world, their representation in national parliaments of 23.7% is still far from parity.

  • Only 52% of married or cohabiting women freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and medical care.

  • Globally, women who own agricultural land represent only 13%.

  • More than 100 countries have taken steps to track budget allocations for gender equality.

  • Women in North Africa have access to less than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector. The proportion of women in paid employment outside the agricultural sector increased from 35% in 1990 to 41% in 2015.

  • In 46 countries, women now occupy more than 30% of national parliament seats in at least one of the chambers.

  • In South Asia, a girl's risk of marrying as a child has decreased by more than 40% since 2000.

  • The rates of 15 to 19-year-old girls undergoing female genital mutilation in the 30 countries where the practice is concentrated fell from one in two girls to one in three (ie, 50 to 30 percent) from 2000 to 2017.

| Goal 5

5.1  End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls around the world

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

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

5.4  Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through public services, infrastructure and social protection policies, promoting shared responsibility in the home and family, as appropriate in each country

5.5  Ensure the full and effective participation of women and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life

5.6  Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, as agreed in accordance with the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the documents resulting from its review conferences

5th  Undertake reforms that guarantee women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control of land and other types of goods, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws

5.b  Improve the use of enabling technology, particularly information and communication technology, to promote women's empowerment

5.c  Adopt and strengthen sound policies and applicable laws​​ to promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

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