Indigenous women working on outdoor looms
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


While there has been progress in relation to gender equality and women’s empowerment at the global level, women and girls continue to face structural discrimination and violence in every part of the world.


Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Gender equality is intrinsically linked to sustainable development and is vital to the realization of human rights for all. Gender equality is achieved when women and men in a society enjoy equal opportunities and rights in all spheres of life.


Providing women and girls with access to health care and decent work, and facilitating their participation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.


Key messages from the region on the issues addressed by SDG 5 and its targets

      • The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean identified four structural obstacles of gender inequality in the region: socioeconomic inequality and the persistence of poverty in the framework of exclusionary growth; discriminatory, violent and patriarchal cultural patterns and the predominance of a culture of privilege; the sexual division of labour and unjust social organization of care; and the concentration of power and hierarchical relations in the public sphere. Overcoming these obstacles is key to achieving gender equality in the region by 2030.

      • The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean have adopted regulations to eradicate violence against women and eliminate patriarchal practices, discourse and cultural patterns that limit women’s autonomy and the full exercise of their rights.

      • Latin America has the largest number of women elected to national parliaments in the world. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries are far from achieving gender parity in legislative bodies and other areas of politics.
      • Many women who enter the labour market looking for work do not find it or obtain only low-productivity jobs. In recent years, the slower rate of job creation has resulted in an increase in female unemployment, which is still higher than male unemployment.

      • Poverty reduction has not benefited men and women equally. There are more women than men in poor households, especially those headed by women with dependent family members.

      • Adapting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to the local situation and mainstreaming gender equality and the empowerment and autonomy of women in local spaces are essential for eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, and fostering good governance and peace.

    Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean

    The analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) presented here is the outcome of the discussions held within the framework of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and Caribbean on Sustainable Development, convened under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Challenges and opportunities for the implementation, follow-up and review of SDG 5 and its targets

    • Challenges

      • One of the biggest —and sometimes least visible— obstacles faced by women in politics is violence in the form of political harassment, threats and even femicide. This issue has only been addressed systematically in recent years, including through legislative developments.

      • Women’s labour force participation and their access to any other form of income of their own remain highly stratified among women of different socioeconomic levels.

      • While the female labour force participation rate has improved in recent decades, this has not been matched by an increase in time spent by men on unpaid domestic work, owing to discriminatory social, cultural and demographic patterns.

      • Even when more women complete secondary education than men, they still do not have the same employment opportunities and they earn less.

      • The Caribbean is still the only subregion that has yet to carry out a time-use survey to quantify unpaid work in order to address comprehensively the inequalities rooted in the sexual division of labour.


      • In recent years, significant progress has been made with regard to institutional frameworks, yielding substantial results in the implementation of gender mainstreaming strategies in various sectors and at different State levels.

      • The Regional Gender Agenda and the 2030 Agenda both refer to the importance of recognizing and valuing unpaid work with regard to economic autonomy, and of instruments for measuring time use. Making the factors that affect women statistically visible enables implementation of evidence-based public policies for equality.

      • To address gender-based violence in the region, legislative and programmatic measures have been adopted, such as the enactment of comprehensive protection laws, the codification of feminicide or femicide, or the increase in protection measures —ranging from direct protection of victims, to measures to provide support during the legal process.

      • With regard to decision-making autonomy, most Latin American and Caribbean countries have adopted quota and parity laws in the last two decades in an effort to promote parity-based democracies.

Lessons learned and good practices with respect to SDG 5 and its targets

      • The implementation of the measures of the Montevideo Strategy for Implementation of the Regional Gender Agenda within the Sustainable Development Framework by 2030 has been key to creating the structural conditions, mechanisms and resources needed to guarantee women’s rights and move towards gender equality. Governments are using the Montevideo Strategy as a tool for formulating gender equality policies, which are part of sustainable development strategies. To date, 25 countries of the region have reported on their progress in implementing the Strategy. For, example, in the Dominican Republic, the Montevideo Strategy has been used as a framework for actions to attain SDG 5 in the country.

      • The gender institutional framework has been strengthened in the region, either through machinery for the advancement of women or through intersectoral institutional coordination to implement cross-cutting policies.
      • In order to break down the sexual division of labour and the unjust social organization of care work, several States have designed laws and policies for care. Those initiatives seek to uphold the rights of people who need care at all stages of the life cycle and, at the same time, to address the problem of the excessive burden of unpaid work borne by women and its impact on their economic autonomy. In Uruguay, for example, Law No. 19353 created the National Integrated Care System (SNIC) as the fourth pillar of the country’s social protection apparatus. In Chile, a National Care System was designed and launched between 2015 and 2017, which includes a National Support and Care Subsystem that recognizes women’s role as caregivers. In Costa Rica, Law No. 9220/2014, on the National Child Care and Development Network (REDCUDI), seeks to bring together the different institutions that provide comprehensive early-childhood care, to enable women to enter the job market.

      • In some countries of the region, ministries of women’s affairs have been involved in preparing the voluntary national reviews submitted to the high-level political forum on sustainable development. One example is Uruguay’s 2017 report, for which the National Women’s Institute (Inmujeres) led the analysis of SDG 5, together with the National Institute of Statistics (INE) and the Office of Planning and Budget (OPP). For the preparation of Ecuador’s 2018 report, the government organized a participatory process which included women’s organizations.

Recommendations from Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve SDG 5 and its targets

      • The region has been a pioneer in adopting regional and subregional instruments on gender equality, which are often more ambitious than various global instruments. The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean must prioritize implementation of these instruments and full compliance with them.

      • Achieving gender equality will require strengthening comprehensive policies to address the structural obstacles to equality.

      • Greater efforts must be made to analyse and share good practices identified in the region relating to the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. Understanding such violence through clear data is crucial to fighting impunity.

      • To achieve SDG 5, it is vital to recognize the right to care, to value domestic and unpaid care work, and to promote integrated care systems as part of social protection, from a gender and rights-based perspective.
      • Promoting shared responsibility between men and women in the home is fundamental in a region where the sexual division of labour is one of the structural obstacles to gender equality.

      • An intersectional and intercultural approach must be incorporated into the design of public policies that affect women’s lives. In addition, gender inequalities and the strengthening of regional cooperation need to be addressed with a multi-scale approach.

      • Sufficient, progressive funding is required to meet regional and global commitments on gender equality and women’s autonomy.

      • The machineries for the advancement of women must continue to be strengthened, while ensuring their full integration into the national coordination mechanisms for the follow-up of the 2030 Agenda. This will help to create positive synergies for achieving gender equality in all three dimensions of sustainable development and attaining substantive equality by 2030.