The Sustainable Development Goals

The Nordics and SDG 5: Tracking Progress

Introduction

This data tracker analyses the Nordic countries’ progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The goal is comprised of 9 targets.

The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – are classified into one of five categories for each target:

Met: The country has already met the 2030 target.

On track: The country has not yet met the target but is on track to do so by 2030.

Short distance: The country has not met the target and is not projected to do so but is close to achieving it. This category also applies when the country currently meets the target but is projected to move away from it.

Long distance but progressing: The country is far from the target but is making progress towards it.

Long distance and not progressing: The country is far from the target and is not making progress towards reaching it.

Details on the methodology used, together with the overall assessment for all 17 goals, can be found on our overview page. Note that the analysis is currently work in progress.

Overall assessment of progress

As of mid-2023, this is our assessment of the Nordic countries progress on the 9 targets part of SDG 5:

The Nordic countries’ performance on the different targets part of this goal can be explored further below. Each section follows the same structure:

  • First, the official target text and related indicators is described and the latest global and regional trends are highlighted briefly.
  • Second, where data is available, we then zoom in on the Nordic countries to describe how they are progressing, and assess their likelihood of achieving the target by the 2030 deadline.
  • Note that both sections above strictly uses data from the UN SDG Global Database and/or the OECD.

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.

The latest data for 2022 shows a world country average of 76 across all four areas. Countries in Europe, Northern America and Australia and New Zealand scored the highest.

The Nordics

Overall across all four areas, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have scores at or above the average for Europe and Northern America region (86).

The OECD has operationalised the target on this indicator as a score of 97 or higher on average across all areas. Currently none of the Nordics are close to, or on track to reach it by 2030.

Denmark

Long distance to target, not progressing

Finland

Long distance to target, not progressing

Iceland

Long distance to target, not progressing

Norway

Long distance to target, not progressing

Sweden

Long distance to target, not progressing

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

5.2.1. Physical, sexual or psychological violence

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.

The Nordics

While the target is full elimination (0%), it has been operationalised at 3% to account for statistical measurement errors. Estimates based on survey data from 2000-2018 show that Denmark and Iceland are below this threshold, with Norway close to it. However, with only a single datapoint per country, there is a high degree of uncertainty around current levels and trends for all countries. Thus no assessment of progress is performed on this indicator due to lack of data.

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

5.3.1. Share of women married or in a union

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 2022 (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. 4% 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.

5.3.1. Female genital mutilation

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 decline.

The Nordics

No data is available for the Nordic countries for the indicators measured in this target. However, while insufficient to give a complete picture of harmful practices, the OECD includes an indicator 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 towards FGM, and 1 where the legal framework does not afford any protection. The indicator shows there are wide differences between the Nordic countries, with Finland at 1, Denmark and Iceland at 0.75, Norway at 0.25, and Sweden being the only country seen as offering legal protection towards FGM (score of 0).

As data is only available for a single year, no assessment of progress is performed.

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.

As data is only available for a single year, no assessment of progress is performed.

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

5.5.1. National parliaments and local government

Despite progress over recent decades, women only occupy 27% of seats in national parliaments and 35% of seats in local governments.

Albeit at a slow pace, all regions have seen improvements in women’s share of seats in national parliaments. As of 2023, the share was highest in i) Australia and New Zealand ii) Latin America and the Caribbean and iii) Europe and Northern America.

At the local government level, data is only available from 2020-23 but shows that representation is generally higher than at the national level. In 2023, it was highest at 41% in Central and Southern Asia.

5.5.2. Managerial positions

Data for the second indicator on this target, show that women are also underrepresented at the managerial level. From 2000 to 2021, women’s share only increased by 3 percentage points, from 25% to 28%. From 2015 the share is almost unchanged (27% 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 2023, all were 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, but the most recent data shows Iceland at 51% representation of women in local governments.

As regards to the share of women in managerial positions, Sweden is the top performer in the Nordics with 43%, up from 38% in 2018. Finland has also increased shares from 32% to 37% over the same period, while in Norway and Iceland rates have declined. Denmark has had the lowest shares in all years for which data is avaliable.

Looking at the Nordic’s performance on the three indicators combined, none have reached the target or is on track to reaching the target of 50% shares of women in national parliaments, local governments and in managerial positions. Still, all are making some progress towards equal representation.

Denmark

Long distance to target but progressing

Finland

Long distance to target but progressing

Iceland

Long distance to target but progressing

Norway

Long distance to target but progressing

Sweden

Long distance to target but progressing

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 (5.6.2) 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 2022, 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.

Data is only avaliable for a single year and thus no assessment of progress is performed.

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

From 2019 to 2022, mobile phone ownership increased from 67% to 73% for people over the age of 10. Despite this increase, women were 12% less likely to own a mobile phone than men. This disparity is more pronounced in lower-income regions, such as Central and Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the gender gap in mobile phone ownership reaches approximately 25%.

The Nordics

Due to lack of data for OECD countries on mobile ownership, 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.

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

Denmark

Target is met

Finland

Target is met

Iceland

Target is met

Norway

Target is met

Sweden

Target is met

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 for the Nordic countries on this indicator.

Explore the other goals

SDG 1

No Poverty

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SDG 2

Zero Hunger

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SDG 3

Good Health and Well-Being

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SDG 4

Quality Education

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SDG 6

Clean Water and Sanitation

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SDG 7

Affordable and Clean Energy

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SDG 8

Decent Work and Economic Growth

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SDG 9

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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SDG 10

Reduced Inequalities

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SDG 11

Sustainable Cities and Communities

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SDG 12

Responsible Production and Consumption

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SDG 13

Climate Action

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SDG 14

Life Below Water

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SDG 15

Life on Land

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SDG 16

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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SDG 17

Partnerships for the Goals

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About the data

Details on the methodology used, together with the overall assessment for all 17 goals can be found on the overview page. Note that the analysis is currently work in progress.

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

Note that the regional groupings used in the visualisations follow the UN regional classification for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Qery supports the Sustainable Development Goals.