The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations in 2015 and came into force in January 2016, requiring both domestic and international implementation by all signatories. The UK Government was at the heart of the SDG development process and strongly advocated for the inclusion of Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5), which aims to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030. The nine targets under SDG 5, including the theme of ‘leaving no-one behind’, are reflected in some existing UK legislation and policy. However, unlike 22 other countries, the UK has not yet set out a clear strategic plan for the achievement of SDG 5. This stands in stark contrast to the UK’s leadership in formulating the SDGs.
We welcome the Government’s commitment to incorporating the SDGs into refreshed Single Departmental Plans (SDPs). However, many of the targets under SDG 5 require cross-departmental working and it is not clear that effective lines of responsibility for co-ordinating this have been established.
The collection of accurate data that can be broken down to reflect the experiences of the most disadvantaged people is central to the successful achievement and monitoring of the SDGs. We have heard that serious gaps exist in the necessary data which must be addressed urgently. Civil society and business are needed to help fill these gaps and to support the monitoring of SDG 5. The Government must ensure that the appropriate resources, support and incentives are put in place to achieve this.
Sustainable Development Goal 5 is more than an international obligation that the UK must meet. It represents an opportunity to develop the most effective structures and policies to achieve gender equality in the UK. We hope the Government will accept in full our recommendations for how this can be achieved. These include:
10 March 2017