Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality

Measuring progress in the Nordic countries

About this data tracker

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) members, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global agenda for making the world a better place by 2030. They are described by the UN as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet‘, and goals are to be achieved by all countries, in global partnership, by 2030.

This data tracker uses the latest official data to look at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving the 17 SDGs, with this page looking closer at Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Each target is presented by first looking at global trends, before zooming in on the Nordic countries and assessing their performance. The assessment is based on work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in analysing the progress made toward the SDGs in all OECD countries.

Target 5.1

End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere


5.1.1Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex

Global trends

This indicator is measured through national-level assessments of legal frameworks, using a questionnaire covering four areas of law:

  1. Overarching legal frameworks and public life;
  2. Violence against women;
  3. Employment and economic benefits; and
  4. Marriage and family.

A score is given for each area (a number between 0 and 100) with 100 representing the full implementation of legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality.

95 countries are included in the latest data for 2020 which shows a world country average of 76 across all four areas. Countries in Europe, Northern America and Australia and New Zealand scored the highest.

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisation above (and all other visualisations on this page with regional data) follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Nordics

Overall across all four areas, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have scores at or above the average for Europe and Northern America region. Norway and Finland are lower, in part due to lower scores in area 2: Violence against women. All the Nordic countries score high on area 3: Employment and economic benefits.

There is not enough data available to gauge trends over time, and thus no assessment is given with regard to the likelihood of the Nordics reaching the target of full implementation by 2030 (operationalised at a score of 97).

Target 5.2

Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation


5.2.1Proportion of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by form of violence and by age
5.2.2Proportion of women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by age and place of occurrence

Global trends

The latest global data from 2018 shows that 1 out of 10 women and girls aged 15 or older have been subjected to violence (physical, sexual or psychological) by a current or former intimate partner in the last 12 months. There are significant differences across regions. Data is not available to gauge trends over time at a global or regional level.

Data is not available for the second indicator of violence by persons other than intimate partners. A working group has been set up by the UN to gather data on this indicator. Earlier estimates by the WHO has indicated that 7% of women worldwide have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner at some point in their lives.

The Nordics

While the target is full elimination (0%), it has been operationalised at 3% to account for statistical measurement errors. Denmark and Iceland are currently below this threshold, but without more data available it is not possible to assess recent trends or the likelihood of reaching the target in 2030.

Target 5.3

Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation


5.3.1Proportion of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 15 and before age 18
5.3.2Proportion of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age

Global trends

According to the UN, more than half a billion girls and women alive today were married in childhood. Globally, the prevalence of child marriage has been in decline. The most recent estimates from 2021 (covering a five-year period) show that about 1 in 5 women aged 20-24 were married or in a union before they were 18 years of age. 5% were so before the age of 15.

The highest prevalence of child marriage was in sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia. In the latter, rates have been in decline over the past two decades, while the development in other regions has been more stagnant.

Approximately 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), according to UN estimates. Data for this indicator is only available for a limited number of countries and areas, with recent trends pointing towards a moderate decling.

The Nordics

No data is available for the Nordic countries for the indicators measured in this target. However, the OECD includes an additional indicator for this target that tracks the level of legal protection for women and girls from FGM.

The indicator scores countries on a range of 0 to 1, with 0 entails that a country's legal framework offers protection and 1 where the legal framework does not afford any protection. The indicator shows there are wide differences between the Nordic countries, with Sweden being the only country seen as offering legal protection towards FGM.

Target 5.4

Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate


5.4.1Proportion of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location

Global trends

There is limited data available for this indicator at a global or regional level. According to a recent UN estimate based on data from 90 countries, women on average spend about 2.5 times as many hours on unpaid domestic work and care work as men.

The Nordics

There is also a lack of data on gender gaps in the Nordic countries. The latest data published by the OECD showed that Denmark (data from 2001), Sweden (data from 2010) and Norway (data from 2011) were among the most "equal" countries in the OECD. Still, even in those countries, women on average did almost one hour more unpaid work than men every day.

Target 5.5

Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life


5.5.1Proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments and (b) local governments
5.5.2Proportion of women in managerial positions

Global trends

A. National parliaments and local government

Despite progress over recent decades, women still only occupy 1 of 4 seats in national parliaments and 1 of 3 seats in local governments. The UN writes in its latest SDG 2022 status report that:

At this pace, it would take another 40 years for women and men to be represented equally in national parliaments.

Albeit at a slow pace, all regions have seen improvements in women's share of seats in national parliaments. As of 2022, the share was highest in i) Latin America and the Caribbean, followed by ii) Europe and Northern America and iii) Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the local government level, data is only available from 2020-22 but shows that representation is generally higher than at the national level. In 2022, it was highest at 41% in Central and Southern Asia.

B. Managerial positions

Data for the second indicator on this target, show that women are also underrepresented at the managerial level. From 2000 to 2020, women's share only increased by 3 percentage points, from 25% to 28%. Shares have increased in all regions.

Importantly, the aggregate data presented here does not include information on for example the level of management, the type of managerial position, the size of the economic unit.

The Nordics

The overall picture is that all the Nordics have some of the highest shares of seats held by women in both national parliaments and at the local government level. As of 2022, many were at or above 40% shares in national parliaments. Compared to 2018 (the earliest year for which data is available), all countries had increased their shares in national parliaments. At the local government level, data is not available to gauge trends.

The picture is more mixed with regard to the share of women in managerial positions. Sweden is the top performer in the Nordics with 42%, up from 38% in 2018. Finland has also increased shares from 32% to 37% over the same period. In Norway and Iceland rates have declined.

Looking at the Nordic's performance on the two indicators, none of them is yet to reach the target of no gender gap (the target is operationalised at 50% shares of women in national parliaments, local governments and in managerial positions). While all the Nordics are closer than most countries to the target, the available data does not allow for trend analysis of the likelihood of reaching the target in 2030.

Target 5.6

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development


5.6.1Proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care
5.6.2Number of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee full and equal access to women and men aged 15 years and older to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education

Global trends

Not enough data is available on the first indicator (5.6.1) to assess global and regional trends.

The second indicator is measured on a scale from 0 to 100% where a full score means that national laws and regulations exist to guarantee women and men full and equal access to reproductive health care, information and education. The UN notes, importantly, that the indicator only measures the existence of laws and regulations, not their implementation.

Each country is measured through a set of 13 components divided into four thematic sections:

  • Maternity care
  • Contraception services
  • Sexuality education
  • HIV and HPV

Below is the average score for each section as well as the total, by SDG region. Data was collected between 2019 and 2021, covering 115 countries worldwide.

Countries around the world have on average in place 76% of the laws and regulations that are needed to guarantee full and equal access. Laws and regulations concerning HIV and HPV had the highest level of implementation (81%).

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern and Western Asia as well as Latin America and the Caribbean had the lowest levels of implementation.

The Nordics

Sweden and Norway both have full implementation of laws and regulations that guarantee full and equal access. Finland has close to full implementation, while Denmark is around the average for Europe and Northern America (87%). No data is available for Iceland.

This is newly released data which is not yet included in the OECD assessment of progress. However, both Norway and Sweden have already achieved the target and thus have a high likelihood of staying within the required target level for 2030.

Target 5.a

Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws


5.a.1(a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure
5.a.2Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control

Global trends

Insufficient data available for analysis of global or regional trends.

The Nordics

No data is available.

Target 5.b

Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women


5.b.1Proportion of individuals who own a mobile telephone, by sex

Global trends

Insufficient data available for analysis of global or regional trends.

The Nordics

Instead of looking at the share of women owning a mobile phone, the OECD uses data on the share of women who have used the internet in the last three months. Measured through this indicator, the Nordics have close to full usage rates. OECD data also show that over 9 of 10 women in the Nordics use the internet daily or almost daily, with women having marginally higher usage rates than men in all countries except Iceland.

OECD data also show that over 9 of 10 women in the Nordics use the internet daily or almost daily.

Across all the Nordics, there are only minor differences between men and women, with women having marginally higher usage rates than men in all countries except Iceland.

Measured through this indicator, OECDs assessment is that all the Nordics have already acheived the target level for 2030.

Target 5.c

Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels


5.c.1Proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment

Global trends

The latest data from the UN, based on 105 countries, shows that only 26% of countries have systems in place to make and track allocations for gender equality. There are large differences in regional averages, with shares highest in Central and Southern Asia, where 63% of countries have such systems in place, and lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean (13%).

The Nordics

No data is available.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional, and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

The assessment of the Nordic countries is based on the findings from a recent OECD report, published in April 2022. The OECD uses a three-tier classification for each target:

  • Target is achieved or on track to being achieved
  • Progress has been made, but is insufficient to meet the target
  • No progress or moving away from the SDG target

In its assessment, the OECD looks at a country's current performance towards a target, and calculates a trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. As such, a country that is close to a target, but trending away from it, will be classified as having "No progress or moving away from the SDG target". Conversely, a country that is currently further away from the target, but trending towards it (and has a high likelihood of reaching it before 2030), will be classified as "Target is achieved or on track to being achieved".


  • First release July 2022
  • Data and text update November 2022

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