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.[vii] This is an opportunity for civil society engagement and advocacy. Key targets that relate to WEE, and can serve as important benchmarks for accountability include:

SDG2 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

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 5.4  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

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 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 8.10  Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all
  • SDG 8.B  By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization

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).


[vii] More information on the VNRs, which feed into the annual High-Level Political Forum to review progress against the 2030 Agenda can be found at