The SDG Roundtable: SDG 5 – Gender Equality

The SDG Roundtable: SDG 5 – Gender Equality

Gender Equality is one of the most fundamental human rights in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This mainly focuses on the aspect of “empowerment of women and girls” by ensuring “an end to discrimination against all women and girls” around the world. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) identifies political empowerment, health and survival, education attainment and economic participation and opportunity as the four indexes to understand and assess global gender equality. Thus, it becomes clear that empowerment of women is an essential factor to promote social growth and expand economic growth which consequently paves the way towards a prosperous, sustainable and peaceful world.

An International Standing

Since 2000, the UNDP, in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) and the rest of the global community, has made gender equality a key component of their work, with notable results. For instance, For comparison, as opposed  to 15 years ago, more girls are now in school, and most regions have achieved gender parity in elementary education. Outside of agriculture, women currently account for 41% of all paid workers, up from 35% in 1990. However, gender equality does not show equal levels of achievement around the world. Some regions and countries show better progress and performance in achieving this goal compared to others. The Global Gender Gap index rankings of 2020 places Nordic countries like (1) Iceland, (2) Norway, (3) Finland, and (4) Sweden in the top rankings with Iceland being recognized as the most gender equal country for the 11th time in a row. They have been able to attain higher levels of education, employment and health care without disparities in gender. Countries of Middle East and Asia such as (150) Syria, (151) Pakistan, and (152) Iraq occupy the lower rankings with (153) Yemen being the least gender equal country in 2020. The reasons for these gaps are multifaceted; The social norms and stereotypes are still valid in many parts of these world. Therefore, women and girls are constantly underrepresented, sexually violated and oppressed within patriarchal societies. Unpaid care work is another major challenge immensely faced by the women in these regions.

However, political empowerment is an element of which women are grossly underrepresented internationally and to which greater focus should be paid. After all, no country has been able to achieve full gender parity, therefore global efforts for creating gender equality is of crucial importance towards sustainable development.

Sri Lanka’s position in achieving “Gender Equality”.

Sri Lanka has made tremendous advances in the direction of gender equality. However, many women and girls continue to endure discrimination and violence as a result of structural hurdles and social conventions that reinforce gender stereotypes. According to the statistics , Sri Lanka’s gender equality gaps are as follows; Males make up 64% of the 8.6 million economically active population, while females make up just 35%. Women make up 52% of the population of Sri Lanka, yet female participation in parliament is only 5.3%, According to a survey performed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2019, 90% of Sri Lankan women and girls had experienced sexual harassment in public buses and trains at least once in their lives.

The UNDP works with the Sri Lankan government and key partners to eradicate gender disparities by implementing targeted, gender-focused programs and ensuring that all development initiatives take into consideration women’s experiences, needs, and contributions. Furthermore, UNDP’s primary activity in Sri Lanka includes improving access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence, eliminating impunity for offenders, and providing survivors with multi-sectoral support and assistance. However, as women in Sri Lanka are proven to be more vulnerable to poverty and marginalization, UNDP encourages women’s participation in choices that impact their lives and aids in the development of resilience to disasters, climate change, and war. Thus, there is considerable improvement overall although some aspects like political empowerment needs to be addressed for the peaceful and sustainable development of the country.

In Conclusion, 2021 has limited the progress on gender equality of women rights. The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the already-prevailing disparities in many areas, from health and the economy to security and social protection. Therefore, a major focus and effort on gender equality is necessary in the future in order to achieve this Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.

– Rtr. Ama Dewanmini


Gender equality and women’s empowerment. United Nations Sustainable Development. (2021). Retrieved 19 September 2021, from

Gender equality | UNDP in Sri Lanka. UNDP. (2021). Retrieved 19 September 2021, from

Global Gender Gap Report 2020. World Economic Forum. (2021). Retrieved 19 September 2021, from

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