International Development Law Organization

Gender and the rule of law: Synergies between SDG 5 and 16

15 Jan 2017

Rea Abada Chiongson, Senior Gender Adviser and Nupur Prakash, Gender and Law Associate

As we work towards the achievement of Agenda 2030, it is essential to recognize the mutually reinforcing nature of SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment and SDG 16 on the rule of law.  The rule of law plays a critical part in the recognition and implementation of women’s rights.

There has been a wave of domestic violence legislation, from only 1 in 1976 to 127 in 2016.   In 2015, 125 sexual harassment and 52 martial rape laws were recorded to be in place.

Despite such growing momentum, discrimination continues to negatively impact the lives of millions of women and girls. Weak governance and inefficient justice institutions accompanied by discriminatory laws have resulted in the erosion of women’s rights.

Evidence indicates that legal frameworks fail to adequately protect and promote women’s civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including their rights to political participation representation, employment, land rights, food security, family life, among others.

It is estimated that one third of the world’s women experience some form of sexual and gender-based violence. Yet efforts towards increasing access to justice for survivors of violence remain unresponsive, in many cases failing to protect women from revictimization. 

Addressing these challenges requires implementing Agenda 2030 in a way that recognizes the interdependent and mutually reinforcing nature of SDGs 5 and 16.   SDG 16 is not only important as a goal by itself, it is critically relevant to other goals, as a robust legal and justice environment is both a driver and outcome of sustainable development. Affording equality to all, fair accountable institutions and frameworks, upholding justice, and protecting human rights are the basic tenets of creating a sustainable enabling legal environment for gender equality to flourish. In other words, robust and responsive legal frameworks and institutions based on the rule of law are imperative in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

SDG 5, on the other hand, underlines the importance of gender equality in strengthening the rule of law.  Integrating gender in laws and policies is instrumental in bringing about equitable, accountable and fair legal and justice institutions that caters to the needs of a wider population.

Addressing law-related challenges to gender discrimination requires working outside of specific “silos”.  It entails a multi-dimensional approach that synergizes the gender, law and development nexus to help the emergence of comprehensive, multi-dimensional and lasting solutions.

Good laws, fairly implemented, are vital in women’s legal empowerment and access to justice, however, gender equality and empowerment crucial are for these laws to be exercise and enjoyed fully by women and girls. 

Building on this nexus, IDLO is committed to continue to effectively integrate gender in all areas of its work and seeks to effective contributing to gender equality, fair justice outcomes for all and ultimately to the full achievement of Agenda 2030.

Photo credit: World Bank - DL-MN018 - Flickr

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