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The SDG Temple of Justice 

The First Pillar: Gender Equality

The eight pillars of legal empowerment

of the SDG Temple of Justice

The blueprint presented here seeks to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by leveraging the human rights foundation of SDGs through the eight pillars of rights relating to legal empowerment of the people including the poor and vulnerable groups.

What is gender equality?

Gender equality is the bedrock of an effective human rights policy and practice. It is taken as the first pillar of our blueprint of the SDG Temple of Justice given its transversal role in achieving all other human rights.


"Gender equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices."

- ABC of Women Worker's Rights and Gender Equality, ILO, 2000


Why gender equality matters?

Women, who constitute nearly half of the world’s population continue to experience discrimination based on gender around the world:

  • In 155 economies women do not have the same legal rights as men, much less the supporting environment that is vital to promote entrepreneurship.


  • While women represent 49.6% of the world’s population, they account for only 40.8% of the formal workforce.


  • In emerging markets between 31 and 38% of formal small and medium-size enterprises have at least one woman owner, but their average growth rate is significantly lower than that of male-owned firms.


  • Gender gaps in women’s entrepreneurship and labor force participation account for an estimated total income loss of 27% in the Middle East and North Africa, a 19% loss in South Asia, a 14% loss in Latin America and the Caribbean and a 10% loss in Europe.

  • Laws and policies prohibit women from equal access to land, property, and housing.

  • Economic and social discrimination results in fewer and poorer life choices for women, rendering them vulnerable to trafficking.

  • Gender-based violence affects at least 30% of women globally.

  • Women are denied their sexual and reproductive health rights.

  • Women human rights defenders are ostracized by their communities and seen as a threat to religion, honour or culture.

  • Women’s crucial role in peace and security is often overlooked, as are the particular risks they face in conflict situations.

  • Some groups of women face compounded forms of discrimination -- due to factors such as their age, ethnicity, disability, or socio-economic status -- in addition to their gender.

(Source: OHCHR and Doing Business 2017 – World Bank)

Why Gender Equality matters for the SDGs?

One cannot talk about humanity when nearly half of the world’s population continue to experience discrimination based on gender. It is for this reason that the United Nations has taken the lead among the global community to recognize women’s rights including gender equality in a number of international human rights treaties.

Gender equality is at the very heart of human rights and United Nations values. A fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter adopted by world leaders in 1945 is "equal rights of men and women", and protecting and promoting women's human rights is the responsibility of all States.

As the Doing Business 2017 (World Bank) points out, there is a gender component to income disparity; the data show that where there are higher levels of gender inequality, there are also higher levels of income inequality.

The relevance of gender equality in realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been affirmed with the inclusion of a standalone goal (Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5 has a direct positive impact on achieving some other SDGs as well, i.e., Goals 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 in particular.

This blueprint of the Temple of UN Global Goals highlights the fact that legal and economic empowerment of the women is the prime means of realizing gender equality anywhere in the world.

Why is women’s economic empowerment so important?

• Women’s economic empowerment and gender equality are first and foremost about basic human rights as enshrined in international human rights and labour conventions, laws and norms.

• Strong and accumulating evidence suggests that lower levels of gender inequality are associated with gains in terms of income, economic growth and national competitiveness.

• Gender equality can reduce poverty and foster a more equitable distribution of income.

• Companies with greater gender equality in their workforce and top management are better able to attract and retain female talent, to motivate their female workers, to understand and respond to the needs of female customers and to better address complex problems by incorporating more diverse views.

• Gender equality can bring dramatic gains in human development and well-being for individuals, families and societies.


(Source: Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment, September 2016).

The UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment recommends that economic policymakers:

• Support and strengthen the implementation of inclusive growth strategies.

• Promote employment creation and the enhancement of existing livelihoods.

• Devote adequate resources for women’s economic empowerment, 

   including through financing for development mechanisms.

• Recognize and value unpaid care work and hidden workers.

• Promote women’s collective voice in economic decision making.

• Strengthen data collection and analysis to inform evidence-based economic policy-making.


For more information, please visit


The international human rights framework for gender equality

Discrimination based on sex is prohibited under almost every human rights treaty - including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which under their common article 3 provide for the rights to equality between men and women in the enjoyment of all rights.

The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Considered the international bill of rights for women, the Convention defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. It was adopted by the United Nations in 1979 and came into force on 3 September 1981.


Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, United Nations A/RES/67/1  Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 30 November 2012

“We recognize the importance of ensuring that women, on the basis of the equality of men and women, fully enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, and commit to using law to uphold their equal rights and ensure their full and equal participation, including in institutions of governance and the judicial system, and recommit to establishing appropriate legal and legislative frameworks to prevent and address all forms of discrimination and violence against women and to secure their empowerment and full access to justice. “ [Paragraph 16]

For a detailed human rights guide to SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), please visit[]=74 (Credit: The Danish Institute for Human Rights).

Seven principles for a transformative agenda

for women’s economic empowerment

No woman left behind. The focus must be on women at the base of the economic pyramid, regardless of their characteristics or circumstances. Leaving no one behind—including the 1 billion people still living in extreme poverty—is a key principle of the 2030 Agenda.

Nothing done for women without women. Women’s voice and participation must be central to all actions.


Equal focus on rights and gains. Enabling women’s economic empowerment is not only the “right” thing to do to honour the states’ commitment to international human rights. It is also the “smart” thing to do for human development, inclusive growth and business.

Tackle root causes. Addressing adverse social norms and all forms of discrimination is critical. Gender inequality in the economy is rooted in and reinforces gender inequality in society.

State parties must respect international human rights and labour standards. Actions by states must be consistent with agreed upon international standards—as laid out in the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and in ILO conventions and recommendations.

Partnerships are critical. Progress requires action from the local to the global level and by all parts of society—individuals, businesses, governments, employer and worker organizations and civil society— often working in partnerships to achieve scalable and sustainable impact.

Deliver globally. This is a global agenda. While the challenges and solutions vary, action is needed in every country.



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LEEG-net communique on SDG Decade of Act
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