Image of Australia with Global Goal 5 in the middle

Global Goals: Achieving Gender Equality in Australia


Image of Australia with Global Goal 5 in the middle

This is the second article in our global goals blog series. In our first article we introduced you to the Global Goals and talked about why they matter. Unlike past development agendas, the Global Goals apply to all countries, including developed ones. So what do the Global Goals mean for gender equality and women’s rights in Australia?

Why the global goals matter for Australia

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development can be an important driver for gender equality and women’s empowerment. What gets measured gets done, and the Global Goals provide us with an important roadmap with clear, measurable goals for our Government to achieve.

While Australia is tracking well[i] on a number of the Global Goals so far, when it comes to gender equality and women’s rights, we still have a long way to go.

Women still only make up around 33% of our representatives in national parliament[ii], earn 16% less than men on average[iii] and are typically responsible for the majority of unpaid care work.

The Global Goals help us address these problems by giving us specific goals and targets to meet by 2030.  For example, Goal 5 has a number of specific targets for empowering women and girls and achieving gender equality.

The Goals provide targets to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls, targets to ensure women’s full and effective participation in leadership and decision-making, and to recognise and value unpaid care.


How do the Global Goals help end violence against women?

Violence against women is a significant and widespread problem in Australia. One in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and one in five women have experienced sexual violence.

Each week, on average, at least one woman is killed by a former or current intimate partner. Violence against women has a significant impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities. It contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15-44 than any other preventable risk factor. [iv]

Importantly, as part of Global Goal 5 we now have explicit targets to eliminate violence against women (Targets 5.2 and 5.3). This creates new obligations for Australia to track progress across government departments and to ensure a coordinated approach to addressing all forms of violence against women.

Like other international governments, the Australian Government will also be required to report on its progress. This gives organisations and individuals working for gender equality an important tool to hold our government accountable and to demand decisive action and resourcing.

We need action from the Australian Government

To achieve the Global Goals we need to start taking action now. This action needs to be well managed and coordinated, across local, state and national government levels.

Our efforts also need to be appropriately resourced. The management and coordination of Goal implementation is a key priority, as is ensuring adequate funding to achieve gender equality and promote women’s rights.

Achieving the goals will also require collaboration, across government, business and civil society. It is crucial that women’s rights organisations and networks are actively consulted and engaged in the implementation and monitoring of the Goals.

The government must recognise the links between the Global Goals to ensure effective progress and reduce the likelihood of advancement in one area negatively impacting another.

What you can do to help

Holding the Australian Government accountable to its commitments to achieving gender equality through the Global Goals is a job for all of us.

But for us to do this, people need to know about the Goals. Talk to your friends, your family, and people in your communities, your workplaces, or your schools about what the Global Goals are and what they mean for achieving gender equality.

Share this information with your online networks and through social media, or contact your local Member of Parliament and tell them what the Global Goals mean for you and your community.

The Global Goals can be a powerful driver for achieving gender equality, for ending violence against women and for empowering all women and girls. It is time for Australia to step forward as a leader on this agenda.


[i] See the Bertelsmann Stiftung & Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) SDG Index and Dashboard here for 2016 ranking of Australia’s progress, pp.69-70. Note that the 2016 report does not cover all targets.

[ii] Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia (2017), Composition of Australian Parliaments by Gender: A Quick Guide, np, accessed at;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22library/prspub/3681701%22

[iii] Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2017), What Is the Gender Pay Gap?, accessed at

[iv] Our Watch, Facts and Figures, accessed at