Turning Promises into Action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


This report by UN Women highlights the policies and processes needed to make the UN’s ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality for women and girls around the world. It discusses where we stand on gender equality globally, tells us what is needed to monitor progress, and provides recommendations for change.  

It looks at the challenges in achieving the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly from a gender perspective. It says that the progress of women and girls has been unreasonably slow and highly uneven, and finds the gap between women and girls from different racial and class groups, even in the same country, astonishing.

UN Women works with governments and civil society groups to design laws, policies, programmes and services that benefit women and girls worldwide.


  1. The report says that gender inequality manifests in every dimension of sustainable development. The extensive extraction of natural resources, climate change and environmental degradation have put the livelihoods of millions of women and men at stake. And a volatile global economy and orthodox economic policies are increasing inequalities and leaving people from the poorer classes behind.

  2. The 2030 Agenda’s main aim is to “leave no one behind.” Women and girls, forced to stay behind the most, experience multiple forms of discrimination based on their sex, age, class, ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or migration status.

  3. Globally, there are 122 women between the age of 25 and 34 living in extreme poverty for every 100 men of the same age group.

  4. 15 million girls of primary-school age will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared to 10 million boys. 

  5. 19 per cent of the world’s women and girls in the 15- 49 age group experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months before the report was published.

  6. At the time of the report’s release, 750 million women and girls were married before they turned 18, and at least 200 million women and girls in 30 countries had undergone female genital mutilation.

  7. Only 52 per cent of women who are married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and healthcare.

  8. The gender pay gap is 23 per cent globally and, without decisive action, it will take 68 years to achieve equal pay. Women continue to do 2.6 times the unpaid care and domestic work that men do. Women’s labour force participation rate is 63 per cent while that of men is 94 per cent.

  9. Indoor air pollution from using combustible fuels for household energy caused 4.3 million deaths in 2012, with women and girls accounting for 6 out of every 10 of these.

  10. Women constitute only 13 per cent of the world’s agricultural land holders.

  11. In India, a woman’s caste can increase her exposure to mortality as a a result of factors such as poor sanitation and inadequate water supply and healthcare. According to the report, the average age at death for Dalit women was 39.5 years against 54.1 years for higher-caste women. That is, 14.6 years less for Dalit women.

  12. A young woman in the 20–24 age group from a poor rural household is 5.1 times as likely as one from a rich urban household to marry before the age of 18; 21.8 times as likely to have never attended school; 5.8 times as likely to become an adolescent mother; 1.3 times as likely to have no access to money for her own use. The likelihood of being poor is greater if she is landless and from a scheduled caste.

  13. Women from poor households spend 24 per cent of their work time on collecting firewood and water and searching for other edible and non-edible items for the household, whereas women from non-poor households spend only 12 per cent for their time on such work. 

  14. The report says that lack of data and the absence of gender-specific indicators has made it difficult to establish gender equality baselines. Currently, only 10 out of 54 gender-related indicators can reliably be monitored at the global level.

    Focus and Factoids by Kanika Gupta.






14 Feb, 2018