Webinar: Gender equality in legal frameworks: Experience from the development of SDG indicator 5.1.1
“Gender equality in legal frameworks: Experience from the development of SDG indicator 5.1.1”
Webinar – 19 June 2018
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises gender equality and women’s empowerment to be paramount for development, as reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5), the standalone goal on gender equality, and the gender-specific targets included across other SDGs. Providing robust data for these gender targets is critical for their achievement.
As co-custodian agencies, UN Women, the OECD Development Centre and the World Bank Group have partnered to develop SDG indicator 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’. Drawing from the experience of the Social Institutions and Gender Index of the OECD Development Centre and the Women, Business and the Law project of the World Bank Group, this indicator aims to monitor progress toward Target 5.1 which calls on Member States1 to ‘End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
During this webinar, experts from the three organisations presented SDG indicator 5.1.1 and preliminary results. The discussion also focused on how this work supports countries to achieve SDG 5 by 2030 and was followed by a questions and answers session.
Background information on SDG 5.1.1
Indicator 5.1.1 measures governments’ efforts to put in place legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality. Removing discriminatory laws and putting in place legal frameworks that advance gender equality are prerequisites to ending discrimination against women and achieving gender equality (Goal 5, Target 5.1). Indicator 5.1.1 will be crucial in accelerating progress on the implementation of SDG 5 and all other gender-related commitments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Methodology developed for SDG 5.1.1
The indicator is based on an assessment of legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality. The assessment is carried out by national counterparts, including National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and/or National Women’s Machinery (NWMs), and legal practitioners/researchers on gender equality, using a questionnaire comprising 44 Yes/No questions under four areas of law: (i) overarching legal frameworks and public life; (ii) violence against women; (iii) employment and economic benefits; and (iv) marriage and family. The areas of law and questions are drawn from the international legal and policy framework on gender equality, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which has 189 States parties, and the Beijing Platform for Action. The detailed list of questions is available here. The primary sources of information relevant for indicator 5.1.1 are legislation and policy/action plans.
The methodology for this indicator, including the areas of law covered, the questionnaire and data reporting, has been established through a series of activities over a two-year period:
- Commissioned background paper (Feb-May 2016);
- Expert workshop with national and international experts, IAEG-SDGs members (June 2016);
- Development of questionnaire (July-Dec 2016);
- Pilot data collection in 100 countries (Dec 2016-Sept 2017)
- Development of guidelines for assessment of questions (May-Sept 2017);
- Data from pilot verified and checked (Sept-Nov 2017);
- Data validation in 14 countries (final check with NWMs/NSOs) (Dec 2017-March 2018).
Throughout the process, the methodology has continually been fine-tuned to ensure its universal relevance, broad coverage and feasibility.
The answers to the 44 questions are coded with simple “Yes/No” answers with “1” for “Yes” and “0” for “No”. For questions 1 and 2 only, they may be scored “N/A” in which case they are not included as part of the overall score calculation for the area.
The scoring methodology is the unweighted average of the questions under each area of law calculated by:
Results of the four areas are reported as percentages as a dashboard: (A1, A2, A3, A4).The score for each area (a number between 0 and 100) therefore represents the percentage of achievement of that country in that area, with 100 being best practice met on all questions in the area.
The choice of presenting all four area scores without further aggregation is the result of adopting the posture that high values in one area in a given country need not compensate in any way the country having low values in some other area, and that a comprehensive examination of the value of those four numbers for each country is potentially more informative than trying to summarize all four numbers into a single index.
The average of the pilot country results is the average of each pilot country’s score, equally weighted, for each one of the topics.
The results show that while the results of the four topic areas are overall fairly good, the areas ‘overarching legal frameworks and public life’ and ‘violence against women’ are the ones where more progress is needed, with averages of 68% and 69% respectively. Better results were found in the other two areas, ‘employment and economic benefits’, and ‘marriage and family’, with averages of 85% and 79% respectively.
Results for all the countries will be submitted to the UNSD in Spring 2019.
Policy relevance for countries
Indicator 5.1.1 measures governments’ efforts to put in place legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality. Its framework is based on international conventions ratified by almost all countries and acknowledged as international standards. This ensures its universal relevance. The assessment is carried out by national counterparts, including National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and/or National Women’s Machinery (NWMs), and legal experts on gender equality. Identification of national focal points allows smooth communication between the governments and the three co-custodian agencies that are the OECD Development Centre, UN women and the World Bank, to better help governments achieve SDG target 5.1. The methodology is easy to replicate and the results are straightforward, indicating the level of national achievement towards international standards.
Questions and answers
What institutional measures should countries take to monitor gender equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex?
There are various tools that can be put in place to monitor gender equality and non-discrimination in countries’ legal frameworks, including:
- Identification of a national action plan on gender and creation of national mechanisms with the mandate to monitor and review implementation;
- Creation of a public entity that can receive complaints on gender discrimination;
- Legal measures must be accompanied by budgetary commitments for their implementation;
- Sanctions for non-compliance with mandatory measures / Incentives for compliance;
- Enhancement of gender data collection; and
- Evidence-based recommendations on strengthening legal framework to the governments.
Is indicator 5.1.1 related to other SDG indicators?
Legal frameworks that advance gender equality generally relate to all of Goal 5 as well as other Goals since gender equality is central to the achievement of all SDGs. There are two other SDG indicators that measure gender equality in legal frameworks:
- Indicator 5.a.2, ‘Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women’s equal rights to land ownership and/or control’; and
- Indicator 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’.
To avoid duplication, indicator 5.1.1 does not cover areas of laws that are addressed under indicators 5.a.2 and 5.6.2. Indicator 5.1.1 complements these other indicators.
Were the four areas of laws covered by SDG 5.1.1 chosen because of CEDAW priorities or intersection between CEDAW and SDG 5?
Yes, CEDAW is a key element for the conception of the questionnaire as well as assessment of the answers.
If Yes = 1 and No = 0, how do you deal with N/A answers?
While 42 out of 44 questions are on a Yes/No answer basis, two questions allow an N/A answer:
- If customary law is a valid source of law under the constitution, is it invalid if it violates constitutional provisions on equality or non-discrimination?
- If personal law is a valid source of law under the constitution, is it invalid if it violates constitutional provisions on equality or non-discrimination?
Depending on the countries, these two questions can be applied or not. They may be scored “N/A”, in which case they are not included as part of the overall score calculation for the area.
How do you handle federal countries (e.g. India, the USA) where many laws apply at the state/provincial level?
For federal countries, the questions look into federal laws rather than state/provincial/city level legislation. This helps ensure the full representation of the overall national legal framework, with laws that affect the largest number of people. Time constraint in the data collection and validation also partially explains this approach.
In April, SDG indicator 5.1.1 was reclassified as a Tier II indicator by the IAEG-SDGs. What does the tier-reclassification mean in practice and why is this important?
The Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators reclassified indicator 5.1.1 as a Tier II indicator following its 7th meeting in April 2018. The classification of an indicator as Tier II or Tier III depends on two criteria: (i) the availability of international methodology and standards and (ii) the frequency of data collection/ availability of data. More specifically:
- Tier II: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.
- Tier III: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.
The reclassification of indicator 5.1.1 as a Tier II indicator means that its methodology is internationally established. It is important for the global implementation of SDG Target 5.1.
How will UN Women ensure that the results are largely disseminated (to CSOs in particular) to support their advocacy work?
Related information including results of this work will be disseminated in a UN web-based platform, which is currently under development. Additionally, at the local level, gender-related legal reforms and implementation are a key priority for UN country/regional offices, and they will reach out to local organizations/CSOs. UN Women will also aim to identify good practices among countries to provide information that can support the advocacy work of CSOs.
Janette Amer is the Human Rights Adviser at UN Women. She is a lawyer by training and joined the United Nations in 1992. She worked for 9 years at the UN Office of Legal Affairs during which time she spent one year in Bosnia-Herzegovina as Legal Adviser for the UN peacekeeping mission. She joined the Division for the Advancement of Women in 2001 where she spent a number of years working with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Caitlin Boyce is a Human Rights Policy Specialist with UN Women. She is a lawyer by training and has worked on women’s rights and access to justice issues with a number of UN agencies, including OHCHR, UNDP and the UN Mission in Liberia.
Gaëlle Ferrant is an economist and gender specialist at the OECD Development Centre. In this role, Gaëlle oversees the gender programme including research, policy dialogue and measurement of gender-based discriminatory social institutions notably through the Social Institutions and Gender Index and its country studies. Prior to this, Gaëlle held various positions at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, the University of Laval in Canada, the French Development Agency and several African-based NGOs.
Léa Fuiret is a junior policy analyst at the OECD Development Centre. In this position, she contributes to the production of data and evidence-based analysis on the root causes of gender inequalities across the world, notably through the Social Institutions and Gender Index and its country studies.
Christina Heliotis joined the Women, Business and the Law team in January 2017 and is working on labor law and SDG indicators. Previously, she worked as an intern at the Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance team. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, Christina worked as a trainee lawyer at a Greek corporate law firm and in the Hellenic Parliament.
Tanya Primiani joined the World Bank Group in 2008 and started working with the Women, Business and the Law team as a Senior Investment Policy Officer in 2017. Prior to this, she coordinated other indicator projects including Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy and Investing Across Borders. Prior to joining the World Bank Group, she worked for the United Nations in Italy, Siemens Management Consulting in New York and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
For any questions, please contact Lea.Fuiret@oecd.org