Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific

Baseline and pathways for transformative change by 2030

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for a new and transformative vision. It establishes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are integrated and indivisible, with gender equality as a central priority. While the region has made progress in reducing poverty overall, socio-economic gains have not been equally shared. The 2030 Agenda has been agreed as the Asia and the Pacific region is seeing both persistent and newly emerging development challenges. These include multi-dimensional inequality, climate change and natural disasters, rising urbanization, demographic shifts, disruptive technologies,and the emergence of extremist groups and ideologies.1 Understanding how these trends can impede or enable progress towards gender equality and sustainable development is vital for effective SDG implementation. The 2030 Agenda is a commitment by all countries and stakeholders to take a new direction towards sustainable development through stronger universal action, new partnerships, adequate financing and an integrated approach to achieving all goals. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are addressed as explicit priorities through the stand-alone Goal 5 and by mainstreaming gender equality across the SDGs. In recognizing multi-dimensional inequality within and between countries, the 2030 Agenda is a commitment to “leaving no one behind”.

The report provides a baseline for monitoring progress on gender equality within the SDG framework and identifies priority actions towards achieving gender equality in the region. It provides the first assessment for Asia and the Pacific of how the 2030 Agenda is to be achieved by addressing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. ADB and UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific jointly produced this report to assist governments, civil society, women’s organizations and key stakeholders in the region to enhance gender equality and sustainable development outcomes by 2030. The report is informed by extensive regional consultations, involving key national stakeholders from planning ministries, national women’s machineries, statistical offices, experts and UN agencies. It identifies a core list of 54 gender-specific indicators and an additional 34 gender-relevant indicators from the official SDG indicators list, through which the region can measure progress towards achieving gender equality and sustainable development. The report includes statistical tables presenting available data in 57 countries and economies in the region, excluding India. It emphasizes the challenges posed by limited data availability and comparability across all the Goals, particularly Goal 5 on gender equality. The report calls for better gender statistics and disaggregated data to enable the SDGs to be effectively monitored and implemented. It also puts the spotlight on four transformative policy areas and highlights key policy actions that can make a fundamental difference to the achievement of sustainable development.

Gender equality is central to sustainable development, but where do we stand in the region?

While Asia and the Pacific has made progress in some areas of gender equality, available data against the SDG indicators highlights significant inequality for women and girls. Moreover, major gaps remain in data availability and comparability in the region. Of the 85 unique gender-related SDG indicators used in this report, only 26 per cent are available for more than two thirds of the countries or territories in the region, as defined in this report,and 41 per cent have no relevant regional data.2 Only 3 of the 14 Goal 5 indicators are classified as “Tier I”, with data supposedly being regularly produced by countries and with agreed methodologies, however regional data is widely available for just one of these three indicators.3 The other 11 Goal 5 indicators are classified as “Tier II” or “Tier III”, because data are not being regularly produced by countries, or the indicators are under methodological or conceptual development. As such, significant investment is needed to monitor gender equality in the SDGs.

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Bibliographic information

Geographic coverage: Asia and the Pacific

Subject area(s): Gender equality and women’s empowerment

Resource type: Research papers; Assessments; Data/statistics

Publication year: 2018

Number of pages: 243

ISBN/ISSN: 978-974-680-422-6