Global Commitments

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the international community adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (to succeed the Millennium Development Goals) that articulated ambitious goals to be achieved by 2030. Each country is encouraged to produce a voluntary national review (VNR) annually to share progress against the SDGs at the national and sub-national level. This is an opportunity for civil society engagement and advocacy.

Key targets that relate to women economic empowerment (WEE), and can serve as important benchmarks for accountability include:

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Goal 2 aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. Three specific targets relate to food and nutrition security.
  • SDG Target 2.1  By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
  • SDG Target 2.2  By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons
  • SDG Target 2.3  By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment



Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Goal 3, which focuses on health and well-being includes:
  • SDG Target 3.1  By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births
  • SDG Target 3.3  By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases
  • SDG Target 3.5  Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol
  • SDG Target 3.7  By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes
  • SDG Target 3.8  Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.



Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality

Goal 5, which focuses on “achiev[ing] gender equality and empower[ing] all women and girls,”. Relevant targets include:

SDG Target 5.1  End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
SDG Target 5.2  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
SDG Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
SDG Target 5.4  Recognize 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
SDG 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
SDG Target 5.a  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
SDG Target 5.c  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.



Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Goal 8: “Sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” is also critical for women’s economic empowerment. Pertinent targets are:
  • SDG Target 8.3  Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • SDG Target 8.5  By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • SDG Target 8.6  By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • SDG Target 8.7  Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms
  • SDG Target 8.8  Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
  • SDG Target 8.10  Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all
  • SDG Target 8.b  By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization



Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action

Goal 13, which focuses on climate change resilience and action, gendered targets include:
  • SDG Target 13.3  Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning
  • SDG Target 13.b  Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities


Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Goal 16, which focuses on "peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development". Relevant targets include:

  • SDG Target 16.1  Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
  • SDG Target 16.5  Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms
  • SDG Target 16.6  Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
  • SDG Target 16.7  Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
  • SDG Target 16.10  Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
  • SDG Target 16.B  Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development



Linked to the SDGs, the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment within the UN published a call to action to ‘Leave No One Behind’. The Call to Action accompanied a report, which highlights seven ‘proven and promising drivers to expand women’s economic opportunities’. These involve:
  • Tackling adverse social norms and promoting positive role models;
  • Ensuring legal protection and reforming discriminatory laws and regulations Redistribution, recognition and reduction of unpaid care work;
  • Recognizing, reducing and redistributing unpaid work and care
  • Building assets - Digital, financial and property
  • Changing business culture and practice
  • Improving public sector practices in employment and procurement
  • Strengthening visibility, collective voice and representation
  • Improving outcomes for women in four areas of work (labor in the informal economy, labor in the formal sector, agriculture, and small/medium enterprises – especially women owned enterprises).