Guarantee Equality Under the Law
Over the past two decades, legal support for gender equality has expanded significantly—through international agreements that have established women’s human rights, as well as changes in national constitutions, laws, and policies. However, formal gender discrimination persists in too many places, and legal barriers still limit the rights of women and girls. Even where laws exist, too often they go unenforced. All forms of discrimination against women and girls should be eliminated, and gender equality should be guaranteed—on paper and in practice.
Change Norms and Attitudes That Hold Women Back
Deeply embedded social or cultural norms can influence whether a girl will be fed or attend school, whether a woman can work and in which job, and even whether she is physically safe at home or in her community. To reach full participation for women and girls, discriminatory gender norms and biases must be changed—both to lift women’s and girls’ aspirations and to shift community beliefs and behaviors that limit choices and opportunities.
Focus on Girls and the Most Marginalized
Despite progress over the past 20 years, gains have not been shared by all. Discrimination against girls undermines their ability to reach their full potential. Gender gaps are most pronounced among those women and girls who are marginalized—including those who are ethnic, racial, or language minorities; disabled; LGBT; from poor households or rural areas; or living in emergency, conflict, or post-conflict situations. All women and girls, regardless of geography or status, must have the same equal rights and opportunities.
Provide Adequate Resources
Despite strong evidence that gender equality is central to prosperity and stability, policies and programs to support gender equality historically have been underfunded. Government investments must be increased to address the gap between policy commitments and the allocation of adequate resources. Private sector investment in programs to promote gender equality should be encouraged, including through public-private partnerships. And funding should be tailored strategically to capitalize on the potential of women and girls.
Disaggregating data by sex and age, as well as factors like race, ethnicity, geography, and income, is vital to driving smarter, more strategic investments that will improve programs, influence policy, and ensure accountability for results. However, we lack adequate data to monitor the full participation of women and girls in many areas of life. Gender data gaps should be closed—including in the areas of violence against women and girls, formal and informal employment, unpaid work, asset ownership and control, and civil registration and vital statistics—and particular attention should be devoted to improving data focused on the world’s poorest women, about whom the least is known.