Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women And Girls in The UK


This report presents evidence about the progress on gender equality in the UK against the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 5, within five thematic areas: power, participation and leadership; education; economy; justice and violence against women and girls; and culture (including arts, sport and technology). Informed by Women and Girls: the British Council approach, the report also looks to the international picture and draws comparisons where this is meaningful.

We hope that this report will provide an essential resource of good practice for the British Council’s international partners, as well as a high-level stocktake of progress across the UK that will inform the work of government at all levels, civil society and the private
sector. We hope these twin elements will support the achievement of the SDGs globally and domestically.

The research strategy, overseen by an independent advisory group, consisted of a widespread call for evidence, the collation of over 400 pieces of research, 35 interviews with leading UK and international stakeholders in gender equality across government, the private sector and civil society and all the nations of the UK, and a review of findings with expert focus groups. Case studies throughout the report illustrate promising practices and initiatives across policy and direct service provision in the UK alongside international case studies that show where the UK can learn from other countries.


Women’s equal participation in political life is linked to many other indicators for gender equality and
empowerment. The UK Parliament, the national parliaments and assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and local government are a significant distance from achieving parity, although Wales briefly achieved 50 per cent women in its Assembly in 2003 before experiencing a decline. Evidence suggests that efforts need to be strengthened. The UK has academic expertise and would benefit from learning from other countries where legislative and policy change have resulted in significant and sustained progress.

There has been significant progress in the UK, although men remain over-represented in almost all positions of power and decision-making in the UK, and a sexist, sometimes hostile culture in the media impedes women’s advancement. Women’s organisations in other
countries have run successful media campaigns and in the UK there are good examples of using technology platforms to build and amplify the voice of girls and women. Recently, businesses have begun to prioritise the advancement of women in leadership and there isa wealth of research and reports available that document good practice and good results.


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