Goal 5: Gender Equality
Measuring progress in the Nordic countries
Work in progress: This page is under active development.
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.
Data for the other goals can be access via this link.
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.
End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
|5.1.1||Whether or not legal frameworks are in place to promote, enforce and monitor equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of sex|
This indicator is measured through national-level assessments of legal frameworks, using a questionnaire covering four areas of law:
- Overarching legal frameworks and public life;
- Violence against women;
- Employment and economic benefits; and
- 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 that countries scored on average 76% across all four areas, with countries in Europe, Northern America and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) scoring 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.
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 than-average 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%).
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
|5.2.1||Proportion 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|
|5.2.2||Proportion 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|
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.
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.
While all the Nordics have low rates of violence against women by a current or former intimate partner, Finland and Sweden are both above the European average of 4.2%.
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.
Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
|5.3.1||Proportion of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 15 and before age 18|
|5.3.2||Proportion of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age|
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. Yet, 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. Recent trends points towards a moderate decrease, however, the prevalence is still high and for Northern Africa it stood at 74% in 2021.
No data is available for the Nordic countries for the indicators measured in this target.
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 offering 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 (as of 2019) to offer legal protection towards FGM.
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
|5.4.1||Proportion of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work, by sex, age and location|
There is limited data available for this indicator at a global or regional level. According to a recent UN estimate, women on average spend about 2.5 times as many hours on unpaid domestic work and care work as men (based on data from 90 countries).
There is a lack of recent data also 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.
Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
|5.5.1||Proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments and (b) local governments|
|5.5.2||Proportion of women in managerial positions|
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.
All regions have seen, albeit at a slow pace, 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 a mere 3 percentage points to 28%. Shares have increased in all regions except Central and Southern Asia.
Importantly, the aggregate data presented here does not include information on the level of management, the type of managerial position, the size of the economic unit and so forth.
The overall picture is that all the Nordics have some of the highest shares of seats held by women in 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 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 been falling, while in Denmark it has increased slowly, albeit from a lower level.
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 analysis of the likelihood of reaching the target in 2030.
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
|5.6.1||Proportion of women aged 15-49 years who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care|
|5.6.2||Number 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|
Not enough data is available on the first indicator to assess global and regional trends.
The second indicator is measured on a scale from 0 to 100 % where 100 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 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 strongest 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.
Sweden and Norway both have full implementation of laws and regulations that guarantee full and equal access. Finland has almost full implementation, while Denmark is around the average for Europe and Northern America SDG region (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.
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.2||Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control|
Not enough data is available for analysis of global or regional trends.
No data is available.
Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
|5.b.1||Proportion of individuals who own a mobile telephone, by sex|
Not enough data is available for analysis of global or regional trends.
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 almost full usage rates. Based on this indicator, all Nordic countries have already reached the target for 2030.
Going beyond this, OECD data also shows that over 9 of 10 women in the Nordics use the internet daily or almost daily. In fact, women have marginally higher usage rates than men in all countries except Iceland.
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.1||Proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment|
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%).
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
Note that the OECD methodology uses the current status of a target and calculates a likely trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. Thus, 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".
- Pilot release 19 July 2022
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