Government has yet to set out a plan for achieving its commitments on equality, say MPs

The Government must publish a plan on how it intends to achieve gender equality, a new report from the Women and Equalities Committee says today.

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed by world leaders at the United Nations, in which the UK strongly advocated for the inclusion of SDG 5, a commitment to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030. However, unlike 22 other countries, the UK Government has not set out a clear strategic plan for how this international obligation will be met.

Today’s report found that many of the targets under SDG 5 require cross-departmental working and it is not clear that effective lines of responsibility for co-ordinating this have been established. The Committee has called on the Government to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to achieve this.

Ben Howlett, the Member of Parliament for Bath and member of the Women and Equalities Committee, said, “The UK has led the world in developing the Sustainable Development Goals and we should be proud of the Government for championing the inclusion of a standalone gender goal. Achieving the SDG 5 commitment domestically is key to maintaining our position as a proponent of women’s rights globally.

“The UK has strong policies in many areas included in SDG 5 but stretching goals need to be agreed to demonstrate commitment to gender equality at home as well as abroad.

“Other countries, including Germany, Norway and Finland have already set out clear plans for action and the UK appears to be lagging behind.

“We strongly welcome the Government’s promise to include SDG 5 in its cross-departmental work, but the need for an overall strategy to ensure its successful delivery is clear. Leadership must come from the top.”

In the report, the Committee recommends that:

  • The Government should domestically publicise its commitment to the SDGs in the UK and immediately commit to reporting to the UN's High Level Political Forum in 2018.
  • The Minister for Women and Equalities should take responsibility for ensuring the achievement of SDG 5 across government.
  • The Government Equalities Office (GEO) should immediately consult on developing the most effective mechanism for facilitating ongoing partnership between government and civil society to achieve SDG 5.
  • The GEO should ensure that the key SDG principle of 'leaving no-one behind' is fully embedded in its revised Single Departmental Plan.
  • There is confusion around the role of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in developing national indicators and monitoring progress towards SDG 5, and this role must be clarified. The Government should also ensure funding for expert organisations to participate fully in the data collection and monitoring functions necessary for the successful achievement of SDG 5.

The full report can be read here -